Psalm 7:12
If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he has bent his bow, and made it ready.
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(12) If he turn not.—The Hebrew is doubly idiomatic. Translate surely (see Hebrews 3:11, with Note in New Testament Commentary), He will again whet His sword. It is true that the verb to turn in the sense of repetition usually precedes the other verb immediately, without, as here, any other words intervening.

Bent.—Literally, trodden, showing that the foot was used by the Israelites to bend the bow, as by archers now. (Smith’s Bible Dictionary, “Arms.”)

Psalm 7:12-13. If he — The wicked man last mentioned; turn not — From his wicked course; he — God; will whet his sword — Will prepare, and hasten, and speedily execute his judgments upon him. He hath bent his bow — Did I say, He will do it? nay, he hath already done it; his sword is drawn, his bow is bent, and the arrows are prepared and ready to be shot. The wrath of God may be slow, but it is always sure, and the sinner who is not converted by the vengeance inflicted on others, will himself, at length, be made an example of vengeance to others. He hath prepared for him — For the wicked; the instruments of death — That is, deadly weapons. He ordaineth — Designs or fits for this very use; his arrows against the persecutors — Of all sinners, persecutors are set up as the fairest marks of divine wrath. They set God at defiance, but cannot set themselves out of the reach of his judgments.7:10-17 David is confident that he shall find God his powerful Saviour. The destruction of sinners may be prevented by their conversion; for it is threatened, If he turn not from his evil way, let him expect it will be his ruin. But amidst the threatenings of wrath, we have a gracious offer of mercy. God gives sinners warning of their danger, and space to repent, and prevent it. He is slow to punish, and long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish. The sinner is described, ver. 14-16, as taking more pains to ruin his soul than, if directed aright, would save it. This is true, in a sense, of all sinners. Let us look to the Saviour under all our trials. Blessed Lord, give us grace to look to thee in the path of tribulation, going before thy church and people, and marking the way by thine own spotless example. Under all the persecutions which in our lesser trials mark our way, let the looking to Jesus animate our minds and comfort our hearts.If he turn not - If the wicked person does not repent. in the previous verse the psalmist had said that God is angry with the wicked every day; he here states what must be the consequence to the wicked if they persevere in the course which they are pursuing; that is, if they do not repent. God, he says, cannot be indifferent to the course which they pursue, but he is preparing for them the instruments of punishment, and he will certainly bring destruction upon them. It is implied here that if they would repent and turn they would avoid this, and would be saved: a doctrine which is everywhere stated in the Scriptures.

He will whet his sword - He will sharpen his sword preparatory to inflicting punishment. That is, God will do this. Some, however, have supposed that this refers to the wicked person - the enemy of David - meaning that if he did not turn; if he was not arrested; if he was suffered to go on as he intended, he would whet his sword, and bend his bow, etc.; that is, that he would go on to execute his purposes against the righteous. See Rosenmuller in loc. But the most natural construction is to refer it to God, as meaning that if the sinner did not repent, He would inflict on him deserved punishment. The "sword" is an instrument of punishment (compare Romans 13:4); and to "whet" or sharpen it, is merely a phrase denoting that he would prepare to execute punishment. See Deuteronomy 32:41.

He hath bent his bow - The bow, like the sword, was used in battle as a means of destroying an enemy. It is used here of God, who is represented as going forth to destroy or punish his foes. The language is derived from the customs of war. Compare Exodus 15:3; Isaiah 63:1-4. The Hebrew here is," his bow he has trodden," alluding to the ancient mode of bending the large and heavy bows used in war, by treading on them in order to bend them.

And made it ready - Made it ready to shoot the arrow. That is, He is ready to execute punishment on the wicked; or, all the preparations are made for it.

12, 13. They are here distinctly pointed out, though by changing the person, a very common mode of speech, one is selected as a representative of wicked men generally. The military figures are of obvious meaning. If he, i.e. the wicked man last mentioned, either Cush or Saul, turn not from this wicked course of calumnating or persecuting me, he, i.e. God, who is often designed by this pronoun, being easily to be understood from the nature of the thing,

will whet his sword, i.e. will prepare, and hasten, and speedily execute his judgments upon him. Did I say, he will do it? nay,

he hath already done it; his sword is drawn, his bow is bent, and the arrows are prepared and ready to be shot. If he turn not,.... Not God, but the enemy, or the wicked man, spoken of Psalm 7:5; if he turn not from his wicked course of life, to the Lord to live to him, and according to his will; unless he is converted and repents of his sin, and there is a change wrought in him, in his heart and life; the Septuagint, Vulgate Latin, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions read, "if ye turn not", or "are not converted", an apostrophe to the wicked;

he will whet his sword: God is a man of war, and he is sometimes represented as accoutred with military weapons; see Isaiah 59:17; and among the rest with the sword of judgment, which he may be said to whet, when he prepares sharp and sore judgments for his enemies, Isaiah 27:1;

he hath bent his bow, and made it ready; drawn his bow of vengeance, and put it on the full stretch, and made it ready with the arrows of his wrath, levelled against the wicked, with whom he is angry; which is expressive of their speedy and inevitable ruin, in case of impenitence; see Lamentations 2:4; or "trod his bow", as is the usual phrase elsewhere; see Psalm 11:2; which was done by the feet, and was necessary when the bow was a strong one, as Jarchi on Psalm 11:2; observes; and so the Arabs, as Suidas (g) relates, using arrows the length of a man, put their feet on the string of the bow instead of their hands.

(g) In voce

If {k} he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready.

(k) Unless Saul changes his mind, I will die, for he has both the men and weapons to destroy me. Thus considering his great danger, he magnifies God's grace.

12. If a man turn not from his evil way and repent, God ‘will whet his sword:’ nay, He has already strung His bow and made it ready to discharge the arrow of punishment. God is described under the figure of a warrior, armed with sword and bow to execute vengeance on the wicked. Cp. Deuteronomy 32:41-42. The tenses of the first clause represent the judgement as in process of preparation from time to time; those of the second clause as ready to be launched against the offender at any moment. The wicked aim their arrows at the upright in heart (Psalm 11:2), but ‘the saviour of the upright in heart’ aims His arrows at them and frustrates their plots.

R.V. marg. Surely he will again whet his sword is a possible but less satisfactory rendering. Psalm 7:12-13 may then be referred either to God, or to the enemy intending to renew his attack.Verse 12. - If he turn not, he (i.e. God) will whet his sword (comp. Deuteronomy 32:41; Isaiah 27:1; Isaiah 34:5). "Every new transgression," says Bishop Horne, "sets a fresh edge to God's sword" He hath bent his bow, and made it ready; rather, he hath bent his bow, and fixed it; i.e. held it in the position for taking aim. (Heb.: 7:7-9) In the consciousness of his own innocence he calls upon Jahve to sit in judgment and to do justice to His own. His vision widens and extends from the enemies immediately around to the whole world in its hostility towards Jahve and His anointed one. In the very same way special judgments and the judgment of the world are portrayed side by side, as it were on one canvas, in the prophets. The truth of this combination lies in the fact of the final judgment being only the finale of that judgment which is in constant execution in the world itself. The language here takes the highest and most majestic flight conceivable. By קוּמה (Milra, ass in Psalm 3:8), which is one of David's words of prayer that he has taken from the lips of Moses (Psalm 9:20; Psalm 10:12), he calls upon Jahve to interpose. The parallel is הנּשׂא lift Thyself up, show thyself in Thy majesty, Psalm 94:2, Isaiah 33:10. The anger, in which He is to arise, is the principle of His judicial righteousness. With this His anger He is to gird Himself (Psalm 76:11) against the ragings of the oppressors of God's anointed one, i.e., taking vengeance on their many and manifold manifestations of hostility. עברות is a shorter form of the construct (instead of עברות Job 40:11, cf. Psalm 21:1-13 :31) of עברה which describes the anger as running over, breaking forth from within and passing over into words and deeds (cf. Arab. fšš, used of water: it overflows the dam, of wrath: it breaks forth). It is contrary to the usage of the language to make משׁפּט the object to עוּרה in opposition to the accents, and it is unnatural to regard it as the accus. of direction equals למּשׂפט (Psalm 35:23), as Hitzig does. The accents rightly unite עוּרה אלי: awake (stir thyself) for me i.e., to help me (אלי like לקלאתי, Psalm 59:5). The view, that צוּית is then precative and equivalent to צוּה: command judgment, is one that cannot be established according to syntax either here, or in Psalm 71:3. It ought at least to have been וצוּית with Waw consec. On the other hand the relative rendering: Thou who hast ordered judgment (Maurer, Hengst.), is admissible, but unnecessary. We take it by itself in a confirmatory sense, not as a circumstantial clause: having commanded judgment (Ewald), but as a co-ordinate clause: Thou hast indeed enjoined the maintaining of right (Hupfeld).

The psalmist now, so to speak, arranges the judgment scene: the assembly of the nations is to form a circle round about Jahve, in the midst of which He will sit in judgment, and after the judgment He is to soar away (Genesis 17:22) aloft over it and return to the heights of heaven like a victor after the battle (see Psalm 68:19). Although it strikes one as strange that the termination of the judgment itself is not definitely expressed, yet the rendering of Hupfeld and others: sit Thou again upon Thy heavenly judgment-seat to judge, is to be rejected on account of the שׁוּבה (cf. on the other hand 21:14) which is not suited to it; שׁוב למּרום can only mean Jahve's return to His rest after the execution of judgment. That which Psalm 7:7 and Psalm 7:8 in the boldness of faith desire, the beginning of Psalm 7:9 expresses as a prophetic hope, from which proceeds the prayer, that the Judge of the earth may also do justice to him (שׁפתני vindica me, as in Psalm 26:1; Psalm 35:24) according to his righteousness and the purity of which he is conscious, as dwelling in him. עלי is to be closely connected with תּמּי, just as one says נפשׁי עלי (Psychol. S. 152 [tr. p. 180]). That which the individual as ego, distinguishes from itself as being in it, as subject, it denotes by עלי. In explaining it elliptically: "come upon me" (Ew., Olsh., Hupf.) this psychologically intelligible usage of the language is not recognised. On תּם vid., on Psalm 25:21; Psalm 26:1.

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