Psalm 8:2
Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings have you ordained strength because of your enemies, that you might still the enemy and the avenger.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) Babes and sucklings.—Better, young children and sucklings. A regular phrase to describe children from one to three years old (1Samuel 15:3; 1Samuel 22:19). The yonek, or suckling, denotes an earlier stage of the nursing period (which, with Hebrew mothers, sometimes extended over three years, 2 Maccabees 7:27, and on Talmudic authority could not be less than two years) than the ôlel, which is applied to children able to play about on the streets (Jeremiah 9:21; Lamentations 4:4). (See Dr. Ginsburg on Eastern Manners and Customs: Bible Educator, i. 29.)

Ordained strength . . .—At the first glance, the LXX. translation, as quoted in Matthew 21:16 (see Note, New Testament Commentary), “Thou hast perfected praise,” seems to be correct, from a comparison with Psalm 29:1, where strength translates the same Hebrew word, and plainly means homage. This expresses, doubtless, part of the thought of the poet, that in a child’s simple and innocent wonder lies the truest worship; that God accomplishes the greatest things and reveals His glory by means of the weakest instruments—a thought which was seized upon by our Lord to condemn the want of spirituality in the scribes and Pharisees. But the context, speaking the language of war, seems to demand the primitive meaning, stronghold or defence. The truth which the Bible proclaims of the innate divinity of man, his essential likeness to God, is the principal subject of the poet; and in the princely heart of innocence of an unspoilt child he sees, as Wordsworth saw, its confirmation. “Trailing clouds of glory do we come, From God who is our home.” Such a proof is strong even against the noisy clamour of apostate men, who rebel against the Divine government, and lay upon God the blame of their aberration from His order. “His merry babbling mouth provides a defence of the Creator against all the calumnies of the foe” (Ewald). Others think rather of the faculty of speech, and the wonder and glory of it.

The avenger.—Properly, him who avenges himself.

Psalm 8:2. Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings — Children in age, and children in power and knowledge, persons comparatively ignorant and foolish, weak and contemptible, but simple, humble, and teachable; thou hast ordained strength — Hebrew, יסדת עז, jissadta gnoz, literally, hast founded, or constituted strength, hast laid a foundation for effecting, and hast actually effected, great and important purposes. Bishop Patrick, Dr. Hammond, Dr. Dodd, and some others think that there is an allusion in these words to the case of David himself, who, though but a mere child, in comparison of Goliath, yet, being assisted by the power of God, gained a complete victory over that gigantic champion; which was not only a proper punishment of his proud boastings, and defiance of the armies of the living God, but likewise sufficient to make the whole army of the Philistines acknowledge and adore the omnipotence of the God of Israel in reverential silence, at the same time that it discomfited and put them to flight. Our Lord, however, applies the words to little children in the temple, and to the poor and the illiterate people, who, being simple, teachable, and unprejudiced, acknowledged Jesus for the Messiah, and cried, “Hosannah to the son of David,” when the learned scribes, and self-righteous, self- sufficient Pharisees, despised and rejected him. The passage may also be applied, and, probably, was primarily intended to be applied, to the apostles and first preachers of the gospel, who, though looked upon but as babes, unlearned and ignorant men, Acts 4:13, mean and despicable, destitute both of power and interest; yet triumphed over all the wisdom of the wise and the power of the mighty; and overthrew the devil’s kingdom, as the walls of Jericho were thrown down by the sounding of rams’ horns. Thus the gospel, called the arm of the Lord, and the rod of his strength, has wrought wonders in different ages, not out of the mouths of philosophers or orators, or by means of politicians or statesmen, but by persons viewed by the world as babes in literature and human attainments, and who actually lay under very great disadvantages. And the power of God still brings to pass great things in his church by very weak and unlikely instruments; and confounds the noble, wise, and mighty, by the base, and weak, and foolish things of the world, that no flesh may glory in his presence, but the excellence of the power may the more evidently appear to be of God, and not of man, 1 Corinthians 1:27-28. Because of thine enemies — Because they are insolent and haughty; that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger — Mightest put them to silence and put them to shame; and so be justly avenged on the avengers: see Acts 4:14; Acts 6:10. The devil is the great enemy and avenger, and by the preaching of the gospel he was in a great measure stilled, his oracles were silenced, the advocates of his cause were confounded, and unclean spirits themselves not suffered to speak.8:1,2 The psalmist seeks to give unto God the glory due to his name. How bright this glory shines even in this lower world! He is ours, for he made us, protects us, and takes special care of us. The birth, life, preaching, miracles, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus are known through the world. No name is so universal, no power and influence so generally felt, as those of the Saviour of mankind. But how much brighter it shines in the upper world! We, on this earth, only hear God's excellent name, and praise that; the angels and blessed spirits above, see his glory, and praise that; yet he is exalted far above even their blessing and praise. Sometimes the grace of God appears wonderfully in young children. Sometimes the power of God brings to pass great things in his church, by very weak and unlikely instruments, that the excellency of the power might the more evidently appear to be of God, and not of man. This he does, because of his enemies, that he may put them to silence.Out of the mouth - This passage is quoted by the Saviour in Matthew 21:16, to vindicate the conduct of the children in the temple crying, "Hosanna to the Son of David," against the objections of the Pharisees and Scribes, and is perhaps alluded to by him in Matthew 11:25. It is not affirmed, however, in either place, that it had an original reference to the times of the Messiah, or that it was meant, as used by the psalmist, to denote that children would be employed in the praise of God. The language sufficiently expressed the idea which the Saviour meant to convey; and the princip e or great truth involved in the psalm was applicable to the use which he made of it. The language would, perhaps, most naturally denote that infant children would give utterance to the praises of God, as the word "mouth" is used; but still it is not quite certain that the psalmist meant to convey that idea. It is probable, as we shall see, that he meant to say, God had conferred great honor on men - men so humble and weak that they might be compared to infants - by making them the means of overthrowing his enemies, thus showing the greatness of the divine condescension.

Babes - The word used here - עולל ‛ôlêl - means properly a boy or child, and is usually connected with the word rendered sucklings, Jeremiah 44:7; Lamentations 2:11. It is applied to a boy playing in the streets, Jeremiah 6:11; Jeremiah 9:21; asking for bread, Lamentations 4:4,; carried away captive, Lamentations 1:5; borne in the arms, Lamentations 2:20; and once to an unborn infant, Job 3:16. It refers here to a child, or to one who is like a child; and the idea is that those to whom it is applied were naturally unable to accomplish what was done by them, and that God had honored them, and had shown his own condescension, by making them the instruments of doing what they had done.

And sucklings - The word used here - יונק yôneq - means a suckling, or a suckling child, a babe, Deuteronomy 32:25. It may be used literally, or employed to denote one who, in respect to strength, may be compared with a babe. The latter is probably the use made of it here.

Hast thou ordained strength - The word rendered ordained - יסד yâsad - means to found, to lay the foundation of, as of a building, Ezra 3:12; Isaiah 54:11. Then it means to establish, appoint, ordain, constitute, etc. The meaning here is, that in what is referred to, there was, as it were, some basis or foundation for what is called "strength;" that is, that what is here meant by "strength" rested on that as a foundation - to wit, on what was done by babes and sucklings. The word "strength" is rendered by the Septuagint as "praise" - αἷνον ainon - and this is followed in the quotation in Matthew 21:16. The same rendering is adopted in the Latin Vulgate and in the Syriac. The Hebrew word - עז ‛ôz - properly means strength, might; and the idea here would seem to be, that even from babes and sucklings - from those who were in themselves so feeble - God had taken occasion to accomplish a work requiring great power - to wit, in "stilling the enemy and the avenger;" that is, he had made those who were so feeble the instruments of accomplishing so great a work.

Because of thine enemies - In respect to thine enemies, or in order to accomplish something in regard to them, namely, in stilling them, as is immediately specified. The idea is, that there were those who rose up against God, and opposed his government and plans, and that God, in overcoming them, instead of putting forth his own power directly, had condescended to employ those who were weak and feeble like little children. Who these enemies were is not specified, but it is most natural to suppose that the reference is to some of the foes of the author of the psalm, who had been subdued by the prowess of his arm - by strength imparted to him, though in himself feeble as an infant.

That thou mightest still - Mightest cause to rest, or to cease. The original word - שׁבת shâbath - from which our word Sabbath is derived, means to rest; to lie by; to sit down; to sit still; and in the Hiphil, to cause to rest, or to cause to desist; to put an end to, Ezekiel 34:10; Joshua 22:25; Psalm 46:9; Proverbs 18:18. Here it means to bring to an end the purposes of the enemy and the avenger; or, to cause him to desist from his designs.

The enemy - The enemy of the writer, regarded also as the enemy of God.

And the avenger - One who was endeavoring to take revenge, or who was acting as if determined to avenge some imaginary or real wrong. This, too, may refer either to some one who was seeking to revenge himself on the author of the psalm, or who, with the spirit of revenge, stood up against God, and had set himself against him.

In regard to the meaning of this verse, which I apprehend is the key to the whole psalm, and which contains the original germ of the psalm, or the thought which suggested the train of reflection in it, the following remarks may be made:

(a) There is no evidence that it was designed to refer originally to infants, or to children of any age, as stating anything which they would do in contributing to the praise of God, or as defeating sceptics and cavillers by "their instinctive recognition of God's being and glory," as is supposed by Calvin, DeWette, Prof. Alexander, and others. What is said here to be done by "babes and sucklings" has reference to some mighty enemy that had been overcome, not to anything which had been effected by the influence of the recognition of God by little children. It may be doubted, also, whether there is any such "instinctive admiration of his works, even by the youngest children," as would be "a strong defense against those who would question the being and glory" of God, as is supposed by Prof. Alexander and others; and, at all events, that is not the manifest thought in the passage.

(b) Nor does it refer merely to praise as proceeding from children, as being that by which the effect referred to is accomplished. It is true that this idea is in the translation by the Septuagint, and true that it is so quoted in Matthew 21:16, and true, also, that, as quoted by the Saviour, and as originally applied, it was adapted to the end which the Saviour had in view - to silence the chief priests and Scribes, who objected to the praises and hosannas of the children in the temple, for the psalm, on any interpretation, originally meant that God would accomplish good effects by those who were feeble and weak as children, and this principle was applicable to the praises of the children in the temple. But it does not appear that it originally referred to praise, either of children or others. It was to some manifested strength or prowess, by which some enemy, or some one who was seeking revenge, was overcome by the instrumentality of those who might be compared with children on account of their feebleness. From this the psalmist takes occasion to make his reflections on the exalted honor conferred in general on a creature so weak and feeble as man, especially in the wide dominion granted him over the inferior creation.

(c) This was, not improbably, some enemy of the author of the psalm; but who it was is not mentioned. David was often, however, in the course of his life, in such circumstances as are here supposed. Might it not refer to Goliath of Gath - a mighty giant, and a formidable enemy of the people of God, overcome by David, quite a stripling - a child? Would not the language of the psalm agree with that? Was it not true that he was an "enemy" and an "avenger," or one socking revenge? and was it not true that God had, from one who was a mere child, "ordained strength" to subdue him?

(d) God had, then, condescended to honor one who was in himself weak and feeble as a child - who had no power of himself to accomplish what had been done.

(e) This was great condescension on the part of God; and especially was it to be so regarded when the eye looked out - as the author of the psalm appears to have done at the time of its composition - on the starry heavens, and contemplated their greatness and grandeur. What astonishing condescension was it that he who marshalled all those hosts should bestow such honor on man!

continued...

2. So manifest are God's perfections, that by very weak instruments He conclusively sets forth His praise. Infants are not only wonderful illustrations of God's power and skill, in their physical constitution, instincts, and early developed intelligence, but also in their spontaneous admiration of God's works, by which they put to shame—

still—or, silence men who rail and cavil against God. A special illustration of the passage is afforded in Mt 21:16, when our Saviour stilled the cavillers by quoting these words; for the glories with which God invested His incarnate Son, even in His humiliation, constitute a most wonderful display of the perfections of His wisdom, love, and power. In view of the scope of Ps 8:4-8 (see below), this quotation by our Saviour may be regarded as an exposition of the prophetical character of the words.

sucklings—among the Hebrews were probably of an age to speak (compare 1Sa 1:22-24; Mr 7:27).

ordained—founded, or prepared, and perfected, which occurs in Mt 21:16; taken from the Septuagint, has the same meaning.

strength—In the quotation in the New Testament, praise occurs as the consequence or effect put for the cause (compare Ps 118:14).

avenger—as in Ps 44:16; one desirous of revenge, disposed to be quarrelsome, and so apt to cavil against God's government.

2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

Not only in the heavens above is the Lord seen, but the earth beneath is telling forth his majesty. In the sky, the massive orbs, rolling in their stupendous grandeur, are witnesses of his power in great things, while here below, the lisping utterances of babes are the manifestations of his strength in little ones. How often will children tell us of a God whom we have forgotten! How doth their simple prattle refute those learned fools who deny the being of God! Many men have been made to hold their tongues, while sucklings have borne witness to the glory of the God of heaven. It is singular how clearly the history of the church expounds this verse. Did not the children cry "Hosannah!" in the temple, when proud Pharisees were silent and contemptuous? and did not the Saviour quote these very words as a justification of their infantile cries? Early church history records many amazing instances of the testimony of children for the truth of God, but perhaps more modern instances will be most interesting. Foxe tells us, in the Book of Martyrs, that when Mr. Lawrence was burnt in Colchester, he was carried to the fire in a chair, because, through the cruelty of the Papists, he could not stand upright, several young children came about the fire and cried, as well as they could speak, "Lord, strengthen thy servant, and keep thy promise." God answered their prayer; for Mr. Lawrence died as firmly and calmly as any one could wish to breathe his last. When one of the Popish chaplains told Mr. Wishart, the great Scotch martyr, that he had a devil in him, a child that stood by cried out, "A devil cannot speak such words as yonder man speaketh." One more instance is still nearer to our time. In a postcript to one of his letters, in which he details his persecution when first preaching in Moor-fields, Whitfield says, "I cannot help adding that several little boys and girls, who were fond of sitting round me on the pulpit while I preached, and handed to me people's notes - though they were often pelted with eggs, dirt, & c., thrown at me - never once gave way; but, on the contrary, every time I was struck, turned up their little weeping eyes, and seemed to wish they could receive the blows for me. God make them, in their growing years, great and living martyrs for him who, out of the mouth of babes and sucklings, perfects praise!" He who delights in the songs of angels is pleased to honour himself in the eyes of his enemies by the praises of little children. What a contrast between the glory above the heavens, and the mouths of babes and sucklings I yet by both the name of God is made excellent.

Babes and sucklings; either,

1. Properly such; for there is much of God’s glory seen in infants, in their conception and strange progress from small and contemptible beginnings, in their preservation and nourishment in the dark cell of the womb, in their bringing forth and bringing up, in providing breasts and milk for them, and keeping them from innumerable dangers, from which they are utterly unable to keep themselves. But this, though it sets forth God’s praise, yet how it stills the enemy and avenger seems not clear. Or rather,

2. Metaphorically so called, babes not so much in age and years, as in disposition and condition; weak, and foolish, and contemptible, and harmless persons, who are very frequently called babes or children, as 2 Chronicles 13:7 Proverbs 1:4 Ecclesiastes 10:6 Isaiah 3:4 Matthew 18:3 Ephesians 4:14, &c. For such are very unfit to grapple with an enemy; and therefore when such persons conquer the most powerful and malicious enemies, it must needs exceedingly confound and silence them, and mightily advance the glory of God; as indeed it did, when such mean and obscure persons as the apostles, and ministers, and disciples of Christ were, did maintain and propagate the gospel in spite of all the wit, and power, and rage of their enemies. See 1 Corinthians 1:25,27-29. And of such babes as these Christ himself expounds this place, Matthew 21:16; of which more, God willing, upon that place.

Hast thou ordained strength; or, thou hast founded (or confirmed, or established, or firmly settled, or fitted, or perfected, as it is rendered by the LXX. and vulgar Latin here, and by St. Matthew, Matthew 21:16, i.e. perfectly or firmly settled) strength; by which he seems to understand either,

1. The celebration or praise of his strength or power, by comparing this with Matthew 21:16; where it is rendered praise. So it is only a metonymy of the adjunct, which is most frequent in Scripture and all authors. And so the word strength seems to be taken Psalm 29:1 96:7. Or,

2. A strong and mighty kingdom; the abstract being put for the concrete, than which nothing is more frequent; even the kingdom of Christ, or his gospel, which is oft called the arm or power of God, as Psalm 110:2 Isaiah 53:1 1 Corinthians 1:18,24. And this kingdom being an everlasting, and invincible, and all conquering kingdom, Daniel 2:44, it is no wonder it is here called strength. And this gospel or kingdom is here said to be founded or established, not by the hands or valiant actions of men of might, as other kingdoms are; but merely by the mouths of babes, &c., i.e. by the words and discourses of Christ’s apostles and disciples; which is justly observed and celebrated here as a wonderful work of God.

That thou mightest still, i.e. silence, and confound, and conquer, either by convincing and converting them, or by destroying them.

The enemy; the enemies of God and of his people, the devil, the head of them, whose kingdom and power is abolished by this means, and all men who fight under his banner against God and Christ and his members. The avenger; which title most truly and fitly agrees, first to the devil, who being sentenced by God to eternal flames, and conquered and tormented by Christ, maketh it his great business to revenge himself, which because he cannot do upon God and Christ, he endeavours to do it upon their servants and children; and next to all these men who are his vassals and espouse his quarrel; who also are provoked, and conceive, though falsely, that they are injured by the gospel, and by the preachers, professors, and practisers of it, and therefore seek to revenge themselves of them; whereof we have an eminent instance, Revelation 11:10. Compare Hebrews 11:37. Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings,.... Not literally such, though the Jewish writers (e) generally so understand it; as do some Christian interpreters, who explain it of the wonderful formation, nourishment, and growth of infants; and of the marvellous care of God in providing the breast for them; in filling it with milk, and teaching them to suck; which, being observed by men, occasion praise to God, to the confusion of atheists and infidels. But this is no other than what is common to brute creatures: rather the words are to be understood in a figurative sense. So Jarchi applies them to the priests and Levites in the temple: but it is best to interpret them of the apostles and first preachers of the Gospel; and of such who received it and professed it; who were in their own eyes, and in the eyes of the world, as babes and sucklings, Matthew 11:25;

hast thou ordained strength: by which is meant the Gospel, the rod of Christ's strength, and the power of God unto salvation; and which being made useful for the conversion of souls, is the cause of much praise and thanksgiving to God: this, by the mouths and means of the apostles and first ministers of the word, God ordained, or "founded" (f), settled and established in the world, notwithstanding all the opposition made unto it; so that the gates of hell cannot prevail against it, to root it out of the world; but it will continue the everlasting Gospel;

because of thine enemies: either for the sake of subduing them, and bringing them to the obedience of Christ, that is, the elect of God, who are before conversion enemies to God and Christ; or rather for the sake of confounding the implacable enemies of God and Christ, and of the cause and interest of religion. In order to which God has made choice of instruments the most mean and despicable, 1 Corinthians 1:26; and God's end in this more particularly is expressed in the following clause;

that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger; Satan, the enemy of mankind, the adversary of Christ personal and mystical, who is filled with envy, wrath, and malice, against Christ and his people; him, by the, means of the Gospel and the ministry of it, God has "caused to cease" (g), as the word may be rendered; not as to his being, but as to his power and authority, in the Gentile world; out of which, to his great mortification, he was cast, by the mouth and ministry of babes and sucklings. These words are applied by Christ to the children in the temple, crying Hosanna to the son of David, out of whose mouths God perfected the praise of the Messiah; and by which, and Christ's defence of them, the Scribes and Pharisees, the mortal enemies of Christ, and who wanted to revenge themselves on him, were silenced and stilled, Matthew 21:15.

(e) Aben Ezra & R. Moses in ibid. Kimchi, Obadiah Gaon, & Ben Melech in loc. (f) "fundasti", Pagninus, Montanus, Piscator, Cocceius, so the Targum; "fundatam disposuisti", Junius & Tremellius, Rivetus. (g) "ad eessare faciendum", Montanus, Vatablus, Piscator; "ut facias cessare", Gejerus; so Ainsworth.

Out of the mouth {a} of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

(a) Though the wicked would hide God's praises, yet the very babes are sufficient witnesses of the same.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. Render:

Out of the mouth of children and sucklings hast thou founded strength,

Because of thine adversaries,

To quell the enemy and the avenger.

Instead of founded strength, we might render, founded a stronghold, established a defence: but the more general sense is preferable. The LXX gives a free version, ‘Thou hast perfected praise,’ and in this form the words are quoted in Matthew 21:16.

The general sense is plain. Jehovah has ordained that even the feeblest representatives of humanity should be His champions to confound and silence those who oppose His kingdom and deny His goodness and providential government. The mystery of man, of a being made in the image of God to know God, is greater than the mystery of the heavens, with all their immensity and majesty, as truly as the spiritual and eternal is greater than the material and temporal. Man therefore, even in the weakness of childhood, is a witness of the existence and character of God. But how is the testimony uttered? The words must not be prosaically defined and limited. The inarticulate, unspoken testimony to its Creator borne by the mere existence of the infant with its wonderful instincts and capacities for development; the powers of reason and thought and speech; the exercise of these powers in the praise of God with the simple faith of childhood; all are included. Nor is it mere poetic fancy to say that

“Trailing clouds of glory do we come,

From God, who is our home,”

and that

“Heaven lies about us in our infancy.”

This truth was illustrated in the Hosannas of the children who welcomed the Lord on His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, while the chief priests and scribes hardened their hearts in contemptuous hostility, (Matthew 21:15 ff.); but it has a wider scope than that particular instance.

The interpretation of ‘children and sucklings’ as ‘weak and humble believers’ (Matthew 11:25), does not take account of the context. It may be a justifiable application of the words, but there is no hint that they are used figuratively, and it is of man as man that the Psalmist speaks here not less than in Psalm 8:4 ff. Nor again must the words be understood in a general sense as the equivalent of 1 Corinthians 1:26 ff., though a part of the truth they contain illustrates the principle of divine economy there asserted.

‘Thine adversaries’ … ‘the enemy and avenger’ must not be limited to the enemies of the nation by a reference to Psalm 44:5; Psalm 44:16. These no doubt are among the enemies of Jehovah; but all within the nation who oppose God’s purposes or question His Providence, the ‘wicked,’ the ‘scorners,’ (Psalm 1:1) the ‘fools’ (Psalm 14:1) are equally included. The ‘avenger’ in particular is one who usurps, in his own selfish interests, a judicial function which belongs to God alone (Deuteronomy 32:35; Nahum 1:2).Verse 2. - Out of the month of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength. By "babes and sucklings" are meant young children just able to lisp God's praises, and often doing so, either through pious teaching or by a sort of natural instinct, since "Heaven lies about us in our infancy" (Wordsworth). These scarce articulate mutterings form a foundation on which the glory of God in part rests. Because of thine enemies. To put them to shame, who, having attained to manhood, refuse to acknowledge God. That thou mightset still the enemy and the avenger. It scarcely seems as if any single individual - either Absalom, or Ahithophel, or even Satan (Kay) - is intended. Rather the words are used generally of all those who are enemies of God, and desirous of revenging themselves upon him. The existence of such persons is well shown by Hengstenberg. (Heb.: 7:12-14) If God will in the end let His wrath break forth, He will not do it without having previously given threatenings thereof every day, viz., to the ungodly, cf. Isaiah 66:14; Malachi 1:4. He makes these feel His זעם beforehand in order to strike a wholesome terror into them. The subject of the conditional clause אם־לא ישׁוּב is any ungodly person whatever; and the subject of the principal clause, as its continuation in Psalm 7:14 shows, is God. If a man (any one) does not repent, then Jahve will whet His sword (cf. Deuteronomy 32:41). This sense of the words accords with the connection; whereas with the rendering: "forsooth He (Elohim) will again whet His sword" (Bttch., Ew., Hupf.) ישׁוּב, which would moreover stand close by ילטושׁ (cf. e.g., Genesis 30:31), is meaningless; and the אם־לא of asseveration is devoid of purpose. Judgment is being gradually prepared, as the fut. implies; but, as the perff. imply, it is also on the other hand like a bow that is already strung against the sinner with the arrow pointed towards him, so that it can be executed at any moment. כּונן of the making ready, and הכין of the aiming, are used alternately. לו, referring to the sinner, stands first by way of emphasis as in Genesis 49:10; 1 Samuel 2:3, and is equivalent to אליו, Ezekiel 4:3. "Burning" arrows are fire-arrows (זקּים, זיקות, malleoli); and God's fire-arrows are the lightnings sent forth by Him, Psalm 18:15; Zechariah 9:14. The fut. יפעל denotes the simultaneous charging of the arrows aimed at the sinner, with the fire of His wrath. The case illustrated by Cush is generalised: by the sword and arrows the manifold energy of the divine anger is symbolised, and it is only the divine forbearance that prevents it from immediately breaking forth. The conception is not coarsely material, but the vividness of the idea of itself suggests the form of its embodiment.
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