The Figure of the Rolling Thing
Psalm 83:13
O my God, make them like a wheel; as the stubble before the wind.

O my God, make them as a rolling thing. A striking poetical figure, effective if applied to any light substance that is rolled over, whirled round, and driven forward with a high wind. Dickens has a very elaborate picture of wind-driven leaves in the opening part of 'Martin Chuzzlewit.' The figure may be that of the whirlwind, which catches up the sand and hurls it helplessly along; and this would be a good figure for the fight of a panic-stricken army. But Thomson, in his 'Land and the Book,' gives point to the poet's figure by his description of a very curious plant, known as the "gulgal," or "rolling thing." "It is a wild artichoke. In growing it throws out numerous branches of equal size and length in all directions, forming a sort of sphere or globe a foot or more in diameter. When ripe and dry in autumn, these branches become rigid and light as a feather, the parent stem breaks off at the ground, and the wind carries these vegetable globes whithersoever it pleaseth. At the proper season, thousands of them come scudding over the plain, rolling, leaping, bounding, with vast racket, to the dismay both of the horse and his rider. An Arab proverb addresses this rolling thing thus: 'Ho, 'akkub, where do you put up tonight?' To which it answers as it flies, 'Where the wind puts up.' They also derive one of their many forms of cursing from this plant. 'May you be whirled, like the 'akkub, before the wind, until you are caught in the thorns, or plunged into the sea!' If this is not the 'wheel' of David, I have seen nothing in the country to suggest the comparison." This "rolling thing" is wholly helpless in the strong hand of the wind. And the poet feels that even as helpless his enemies would be, if the hand of God were upon them. The idea of their helplessness interests him, because he is so full of fear concerning their numbers and apparent strength. A good illustration may be found in the case of the Syrians who came to take Elisha, and were helpless in his hands, and actually led by him into the capital city of their foes.



III. MAN WILL HAVE MISERABLY TO FEEL HIS HELPLESSNESS, IF HE ATTEMPTS TO ACT WITHOUT PERMISSION. That which affrights God's people before God arises to help them becomes pitiable in its helplessness when God has arisen. - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: O my God, make them like a wheel; as the stubble before the wind.

WEB: My God, make them like tumbleweed; like chaff before the wind.

Prayer Based on Experience and on History
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