Psalm 7:5
Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it; yea, let him tread down my life upon the earth, and lay mine honour 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). Psalm 7:5(Heb.: 7:4-6) According to the inscription זאת points to the substance of those slanderous sayings of the Benjamite. With בּכפּי אם־ישׁ־עול one may compare David's words to Saul אין בּידי רעה 1 Samuel 24:12; 1 Samuel 26:18; and from this comparison one will at once see in a small compass the difference between poetical and prose expression. שׁלמי (Targ. לבעל שׁלמי) is the name he gives (with reference to Saul) to him who stands on a peaceful, friendly footing with him, cf. the adject. שׁלום, Psalm 55:21, and אישׁ שׁלום, Psalm 41:10. The verb גּמל, cogn. גּמר, signifies originally to finish, complete, (root גם, כם ,גם t, cf. כּימה to be or to make full, to gather into a heap). One says טּוב גּמל and גּמל רע, and also without a material object גּמל עלי or גּמלני benefecit or malefecit mihi. But we join גּמלתּי with רע according to the Targum and contrary to the accentuation, and not with שׁלמי (Olsh., Bttch., Hitz.), although שׁלם beside משׁלּם, as e.g., דּבר beside מדבּר might mean "requiting." The poet would then have written: אם שׁלּמתּי גּמלי רע i.e., if I have retaliated upon him that hath done evil to me. In Psalm 7:5 we do not render it according the meaning to הלּץ which is usual elsewhere: but rather I rescued... (Louis de Dieu, Ewald 345, a, and Hupfeld). Why cannot הלּץ in accordance with its primary signification expedire, exuere (according to which even the signification of rescuing, taken exactly, does not proceed from the idea of drawing out, but of making loose, exuere vinclis) signify here exuere equals spoliare, as it does in Aramaic? And how extremely appropriate it is as an allusion to the incident in the cave, when David did not rescue Saul, but, without indeed designing to take חליצה, exuviae, cut off the hem of his garment! As Hengstenberg observes, "He affirms his innocence in the most general terms, thereby showing that his conduct towards Saul was not anything exceptional, but sprang from his whole disposition and mode of action." On the 1 pers. fut. conv. and ah, vid., on Psalm 3:6. ריקם belongs to צוררי, like Psalm 25:3; Psalm 69:5.

In the apodosis, Psalm 7:6, the fut. Kal of רדף is made into three syllables, in a way altogether without example, since, by first making the Sheb audible, from ירדּף it is become ירדף (like יצחק Genesis 21:6, תּהלך Psalm 73:9; Exodus 9:23, שׁמעה Psalm 39:13), and this is then sharpened by an euphonic Dag. forte.

(Note: The Dag. is of the same kind as the Dag. in גּמלּים among nouns; Arabic popular dialect farassı̂ (my horse), vid., Wetzstein's Inshriften S. 366.)

Other ways of explaining it, as that by Cahjg equals יתרדף, or by Kimchi as a mixed form from Kal and Piel,

(Note: Pinsker's view, that the pointing ירדף is designed to leave the reader at liberty to choose between the reading ירדּף and ירדּף, cannot be supported. There are no safe examples for the supposition that the variations of tradition found expression in this way.)

have been already refuted by Baer, Thorath Emeth, p. 33. This dactylic jussive form of Kal is followed by the regular jussives of Hiph. ישּׂג and ישׁכּן. The rhythm is similar so that in the primary passage Exodus 15:9, which also finds its echo in Psalm 18:38, - viz. iambic with anapaests inspersed. By its parallelism with נפשׁי and חיּי, כּבודי acquires the signification "my soul," as Saadia, Gecatilia and Aben-Ezra have rendered it - a signification which is secured to it by Psalm 16:9; Psalm 30:13; Psalm 57:9; Psalm 108:2, Genesis 49:6. Man's soul is his doxa, and this it is as being the copy of the divine doxa (Bibl. Psychol. S. 98, [tr. p. 119], and frequently). Moreover, "let him lay in the dust" is at least quite as favourable to this sense of כבודי as to the sense of personal and official dignity (Psalm 3:4; Psalm 4:3). To lay down in the dust is equivalent to: to lay in the dust of death, Psalm 22:16. שׁכני עפר, Isaiah 26:19, are the dead. According to the biblical conception the soul is capable of being killed (Numbers 35:11), and mortal (Numbers 23:10). It binds spirit and body together and this bond is cut asunder by death. David will submit willingly to death in case he has ever acted dishonourably.

Here the music is to strike up, in order to give intensity to the expression of this courageous confession. In the next strophe is affirmation of innocence rises to a challenging appeal to the judgment-seat of God and a prophetic certainty that that judgment is near at hand.

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