Psalm 7:5
Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it; yes, let him tread down my life on the earth, and lay my honor in the dust. Selah.
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(5) Let the enemy.—Better, let an enemy.

Persecute.—Literally, burn. (See Note on Psalm 10:2.)

Tread.—Used of a potter treading the clay (Isaiah 41:25); of the trampling of horses (Ezekiel 26:11); of a herd trampling down their pasture (Ezekiel 34:28).

Dust.—Either as Psalm 22:15, “the dust of death,” and if so, then khabôd’.

Honour must be the soul or life, as plainly in Psalm 16:9; Psalm 57:8, where the Authorised Version has “glory.” The parallelism is in favour of this. On the other hand, to lay one’s honour in the dust is a common figurative phrase. Shakespeare, K. Hen. VI., i. 5, “Now, France, thy glory droopeth to the dust”; and Coriol. iii. 1, “And throw their power in the dust.”

Selah.—See Note on Psalm 3:2. This is one of the places which suggest its interpretation as a direction to the music, to strike up with passion and force.

Psalm 7:5. Let the enemy persecute my soul, &c. — I am contented, and wish that Saul may so persecute my life as to overtake it, and take it away. And lay mine honour in the dust — Meaning either 1st, that honourable and royal dignity for which he was designed; or, 2d, his reputation and memory: or, rather, 3d, his soul or life, mentioned in the former clause, it being very usual to express the same thing by different words or phrases in one verse: thus we may observe a gradation here. 1st, Let him persist to persecute it; 2d, take it; 3d, tread it down, or destroy it; and, 4th, lay it in the dust, or bury it, to prevent all hopes of restitution. So that the evils which David imprecates on himself, if he were such a person as his adversaries represented him to be, are persecution, apprehension, death, and disgrace.7:1-9 David flees to God for succour. But Christ alone could call on Heaven to attest his uprightness in all things. All His works were wrought in righteousness; and the prince of this world found nothing whereof justly to accuse him. Yet for our sakes, submitting to be charged as guilty, he suffered all evils, but, being innocent, he triumphed over them all. The plea is, For the righteous God trieth the hearts and the reins. He knows the secret wickedness of the wicked, and how to bring it to an end; he is witness to the secret sincerity of the just, and has ways of establishing it. When a man has made peace with God about all his sins, upon the terms of grace and mercy, through the sacrifice of the Mediator, he may, in comparison with his enemies, appeal to God's justice to decide.Let the enemy persecute my soul - Persecute my "life," for so the word rendered "soul," נפשׁ nephesh, is evidently used here. He was willing, if he had been guilty of the thing charged upon him, that the enemy here referred to should "pursue" or persecute him until he should destroy his life. Compare with this the expression of Paul in Acts 25:11. The meaning here is simply that if he were a guilty man, in the manner charged on him, he would be willing to be treated accordingly. He did not wish to screen himself from any just treatment; and if he had been guilty he would not complain even if he were cut off from the land of the living.

And take it - Take my life; put me to death.

Yea, let him tread down my life upon the earth - The allusion here is to the manner in which the vanquished were often treated in battle, when they were rode over by horses, or trampled by men into the dust. The idea of David is, that if he was guilty he would be willing that his enemy should triumph over him, should subdue him, should treat him with the utmost indignity and scorn.

And lay mine honor in the dust - All the tokens or marks of my honor or distinction in life. That is, I am willing to be utterly degraded and humbled, if I have been guilty of this conduct toward him who is my enemy. The idea in all this is, that David did not wish to screen himself from the treatment which he deserved if he had done wrong. His own principles were such that he would have felt that the treatment here referred to would have been right and proper as a recompense for such base conduct; and he would not have had a word to say against it. His desire for the interposition of God, therefore, arose solely from the fact of his feeling that, in these respects, he was entirely innocent, and that the conduct of his enemy was unjust and cruel.

Selah - A musical pause, not affecting the sense, but introduced here, perhaps, because the sense of the psalm now demanded a change in the style of the music. See the notes at Psalm 3:2.

5. This is the consequence, if such has been his conduct.

mine honour—(compare Ps 3:3; 4:2)—my personal and official dignity.

I am contented, and wish that Saul may so persecute my life as to overtake it, and take it away. Mine honour; either,

1. That honourable and royal estate to which I am chosen and designed. Or,

2. My reputation and memory. Or rather,

3. The same thing which he called his

soul and his life in the former branch of the verse, and here his honour; it being very frequent to express one thing in several words or phrases in one verse. And so here may be observed a gradation. Let him,

1. Persist to persecute it;

2. Take it;

3. Tread it down, or destroy it; and,

4. Lay it in the dust, or bury it, to prevent all hopes of restitution. Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it,.... That is, if the above things he was charged with could be proved against him; then he was content that Saul his enemy should pursue after him, and apprehend him, and bring him to justice, by taking away his life from him;

yea, let him tread down my life upon the earth; with the utmost indignation and contempt, without showing any mercy; as the lion treads down his prey, and tears it to pieces, Micah 5:8; or as the potter treads his clay under foot, Isaiah 41:25;

and lay mine honour in the dust; meaning either his life and soul, as before; denominating himself from his better part, and which he elsewhere calls his glory, Psalm 16:9; see Genesis 49:6; or else his body, as R. Judah Ben Balaam, who is blamed for it by Jarchi; or rather his fame, credit, and reputation, that he had gained, both by his courage and valour in the field, and by his wise and prudent behaviour at court, 1 Samuel 18:7. Should he appear to be guilty of the crimes he was accused of, he is willing to have his glorious name buried in the dust of oblivion, and his memory perish for ever. The words are to be considered as a strong assertion of his innocence, in an appeal to God, the searcher of hearts, and the trier of the reins of men; and as imprecating on himself the worst of evils, should it not appear; see Job 31:21.

Selah; Aben Ezra renders "selah", "in truth", "let it be so"; and the Targum renders it, as usual, "for ever"; See Gill on Psalm 3:2.

Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it; yea, let him tread down my life upon the earth, and lay mine {d} honour in the dust. Selah.

(d) Let me not only die, but be dishonoured forever.

5. Render:

Let an enemy pursue my soul and overtake it;

Yea, trample my life to the ground,

And make my glory to dwell in the dust.

With the first line comp. Exodus 15:9, echoed again in Psalm 18:37. The last line might mean only, ‘degrade my dignity, treat me with insult and ignominy;’ but the parallelism of ‘my soul,’ ‘my life,’ ‘my glory,’ is decisive in favour of interpreting ‘my glory’ to mean ‘my soul, as in Psalm 16:9; Psalm 30:12; Psalm 57:8. The ‘soul’ is so designated either as the noblest part of man, or as the image of the divine glory. ‘The dust’ will then be ‘the dust of death.’ Cp. Psalm 22:15; and the exact parallel ‘dwellers in the dust,’ Isaiah 26:19. David then invokes death by an enemy’s hand if he is guilty, and death, as the language implies, with every circumstance of violence and disgrace.Verse 5. - Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it. "If I have been guilty of any of these acts, then let my enemy not only persecute my soul, as he is doing (vers. 1, 2), but take it - make it his prey - obtain full power over it." Yea, let him tread down my life upon the earth; i.e. "utterly destroy me and bring me to ruin." And not only so, but also lay mine honour in the dust; i.e. "bring me down to the grave with shame." Compare the imprecations of Job upon himself (Job 31:8, 10, 22, 40). (Heb.: 6:9-11) Even before his plaintive prayer is ended the divine light and comfort come quickly into his heart, as Frisch says in his "Neuklingende Harfe Davids." His enemies mock him as one forsaken of God, but even in the face of his enemies he becomes conscious that this is not his condition. Thrice in Psalm 6:9, Psalm 6:10 his confidence that God will answer him flashes forth: He hears his loud sobbing, the voice of his weeping that rises towards heaven, He hears his supplication, and He graciously accepts his prayer. The twofold שׁמע expresses the fact and יקח its consequence. That which he seems to have to suffer, shall in reality be the lot of his enemies, viz., the end of those who are rejected of God: they shall be put to shame. The בּושׁ, Syr. behet, Chald. בּהת, בּהת, which we meet with here for the first time, is not connected with the Arab. bht, but (since the Old Arabic as a rule has t` as a mediating vowel between ש and t, )ת with Arab. bât, which signifies "to turn up and scatter about things that lie together (either beside or upon each other)" eruere et diruere, disturbare, - a root which also appears in the reduplicated form Arab. bṯṯ: to root up and disperse, whence Arab. battun, sorrow and anxiety, according to which therefore בּושׁ ( equals בּושׁ as Arab. bâta equals bawata) prop. signifies disturbare, to be perplexed, lose one's self-control, and denotes shame according to a similar, but somewhat differently applied conception to confundi, συγχεῖσθαι, συγχύνεσθαι. ויבּהלוּ points back to Psalm 6:2, Psalm 6:3 : the lot at which the malicious have rejoiced, shall come upon themselves. As is implied in יבשׁוּ ישׁבוּ, a higher power turns back the assailants filled with shame (Psalm 9:4; Psalm 35:4).

What an impressive finish we have here in these three Milels, jashûbu jebôshu rāga), in relation to the tripping measure of the preceding words addressed to his enemies! And, if not intentional, yet how remarkable is the coincidence, that shame follows the involuntary reverse of the foes, and that יבשׁו in its letters and sound is the reverse of ישׁבו! What music there is in the Psalter! If composers could but understand it!!

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