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xciv, 1. The same sentiment is confessed in Isaiah xxxv, 4, Jeremiah l, 28; Nahum i, 2, 3, and elsewhere. As vengeance belonged to God alone, so men were to forbear revenge, or a spirit of revenge, and they were to do good to their enemies. Job considered it a great sin to indulge a revengeful spirit. “If I rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me, or lifted up myself when evil found him; neither have I suffered my mouth to sin by wishing a curse to his soul.” Job xxxi, 29, 30. The law of Moses expressly commands kindly offices to enemies. Exodus xxiii, 4, 5. So also Solomon, “If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: for thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee.” Proverbs xxv, 21, 22. “Tejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth; lest the Lord see it and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him. Say not, I will do so to him, as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.” Proverbs xxiv, 17, 18, 29. It is plain, therefore, that had the Psalmists indulged in the spirit of revenge, or a desire for the destruction of their enemies, considered as personal antagonists, they would have violated the precepts of their own dispensation. We are not authorized, therefore, by the laws of honest interpretation, to give their language this construction. 2. The known, placable, and forgiving spirit of the Psalmists forbids such a construction. Take, for instance, David. Truthfully did he appeal to his pacific and merciful manner of life, when the furious Shimei cursed him and charged him with the blood of the house of Saul. “O Lord, my God,” cries the agonized monarch, “if I have done this; if there be iniquity in my hands; if I have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with me; (yea, I have delivered him that without cause is mine enemy:) 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.” Psalm vii, 3–5. Twice the life of Saul was in his hand, and twice he restrained his men from vengeance. 1 Samuel xxiv, 7, and xxvi, 7–9. The life of the worthless Shimei he forbore to take, and suffered not his men to smite him, though he had committed the highest personal offence against the king. 2 Samuel xvi, 9–11. The news of Saul's death he received with mourning, and dictated his inimitable elegy on the occasion; and the murderers of Ish-bosheth he promptly punished. 2 Samuel i, and iv, 9–12. Whoever will read the life of David will find in his temper and habits the furthest remove from personal revenge or private malevolence. The opposite was true of him. His desire of vengeance was entirely subordinate to the will of God, and to the Divine plan of justice. Once, indeed, he was betrayed into a hasty purpose of revenge upon Nabal; but when entreated by Abigail he promptly saw and confessed his error. “Blessed be thy advice,” said he, “and blessed be thou which hast kept me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with mine own hand.” 1 Samuel xxv, 33. His characteristic habit and temper were exhibited in his reply to Abishai, as he withheld him from killing Saul. “And David said to Abishai, Destroy him not . . . . David said furthermore, As the Lord liveth, the Lord shall smite him; or his day shall come to die; or he shall descend into battle and perish.” 1 Samuel xxvi, 9–11. The same was his reply to Abishai in the case of Shimei. “It may be,” said he, “that the Lord will look upon mine affliction, and that the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day.” 2 Samuel xvi, 12. God was his avenger. “It is God that avengeth me,” (Psalm xviii, 47;) and the vengeance which he prayed for was only that which God had threatened upon the wicked, and the time and manner of which David submitted to his overruling power and wisdom. It is not unworthy of note that four Psalms of David bear the title Fros, al-tashchith, destroy not, which is copied into one of the Psalms of Asaph. It seems to have been used as a motto by David, during his persecutions, to deter him from putting forth his hand to take personal vengeance on his enemies. (See this word in the section on “Titles of the Psalms.”) This title he prefixed to the Psalm which he wrote on occasion of sparing Saul's life in the cave. (See Introduction to Psalm lvii.) 3. They constantly professed their motive and object in praying for the destruction of their enemies to be the protection of the righteous, the honour of God, and the accomplishment of

his gracious designs in the earth. As, for instance, Psalm x, 12: “Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up thy hand; forget not the humble.” Psalm xvii, 13: “Arise, O Lord, disappoint him, cast him down: deliver my soul from the wicked, by thy sword.” The severe malediction invoked Psalm ly, 15, is upon the worst of characters, enemies to God and to the peace of society, as we learn from verses 10, 11, 19–21. In Psalm xxxv, many vindictive prayers are offered; but the moral ground of these imprecations is explained when we perceive the character of David's enemies, and the motives which prompt him thus to pray. His enemies “sought after his life,” and “devised his hurt,” verse 4; they were wily and treacherous, verse 7; they returned evil for good, verse 12; they displayed the utmost hypocrisy and malice, and taunted and rejoiced in his misfortunes, verses 15, 16, 19, 21, 26. That he prayed not against them with any feelings of personal malice is shown from verses 13, 14: “But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom. I behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother; I bowed down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother.” The ultimate end which he sought and anticipated in his maledictory prayers was not private revenge, but simply deliverance from the power of his enemies, and vindication from their vile aspersions. Thus, “Let destruction come upon him at unawares, and let his net that he hath hid catch himself; into that very destruction let him fall. And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord: it shall rejoice in his salvation. All my bones shall say, Lord, who is like unto thee, which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him; yea, the poor and the needy from him that spoileth him.” Verses 8–11. In all this, David considered himself strictly in the light of Jehovah's servant, and therefore his enemies were the enemies of Jehovah, and his deliverance was the vindication of Jehovah's honour. “Let them be ashamed and brought to confusion together that rejoice at my hurt: let them be clothed with shame and dishonour that magnify themselves against me. Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause; yea, let them say continually, Let the Lord be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.” Verses 26,.27. It was, then, not a private matter, merely personal to the Psalmist, in which he was engaged, but a cause of public import, involving the honour of God and the peace and purity of society. David acted for God and humanity. He was their representative and servant, and he wished to be judged and vindicated according to the perfect rule of God's righteousness. “Judge me, O Lord, my God, according to thy righteousness.” Verse 24. It was the right which he sought, and in this matter God should be the judge between him and his enemies. The same remarks may apply, also, to Psalm xl, 14, 15, where verse 16 explains the moral feelings of the Psalmist, and the moral ends of his prayer against the wicked; viz., that all those who sought God might, from the example of his deliverance, “rejoice and be glad in him,” and that they might say continually, “The Lord be magnified.” From verse 17, it is also clear that the whole question of deliverance was submitted to God. The anathema of Psalm lii, 5, 6, is to be considered in connexion with the character of the subjects of it previously and subsequently given. This, with the spirit of the Psalm, sufficiently explains it. Psalm ly, 15: “Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into sheol.” Whether sheol here means the grave, as Professor Stuart insists, or the place of future punishment, as seems most probable, the meaning must necessarily be the same, so far as the moral effect of the imprecation is concerned. To pray that death may seize upon the wicked, and that they may go down quick into the grave, is, in effect, to pray that they might be summoned at once to receive their final sentence. In this passage, consider, first, the language may be read in the form of a declaration, instead of a prayer, thus: “Death shall seize upon them; they shall go down quick into sheol,” as in verse 23. This will be further explained, in reference to all these imprecatory prayers, presently. Secondly, David was a king. The kingdom had been usurped by wicked men, with Absalom at their head. The calamity of the city of Jerusalem, and of the kingdom, is well described in the Psalm, as are also the perfidy, baseness, deceit, and cruelty of the conspirators, which were almost beyond parallel. David himself, as a matter of personal preference, would fain have fled, and lived in exile, remote from the envy of his pursuers; but, as a king, he could not: (see verses 6–8.) The good of his people, the safety of the realm, demanded the immediate destruction of these men. As God's viceroy, as the benefactor and rightful sovereign of his people, he could ask for nothing less than the instant defeat and death of the leading conspirators; the public good demanded it. The general spirit and tone of the Psalm, with the circumstances of the case, sufficiently shield the Psalmist from the charge of a revengeful spirit. Psalm lviii contains many expressions which sound harsh at first reading. Thus, speaking of the wicked, David says: “Their poison is like the poison of a serpent; they are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear; which will not hearken to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely. Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth: break out the great teeth of the young lions.” That is, literally, pull out their teeth from their mouth; O God, tear out the teeth of the young lions. Serpents are tamed and rendered harmless in the East, by extracting the fang, or tooth, at the root of which a poisonous secretion is formed in a sack, and by injecting this poison into the wound inflicted by the fang, they have their deadly power. When this is removed, both the venomous power and the ferocious disposition is destroyed. A similar effect is made, or is supposed to be made, on the lion, by extracting his “great teeth.” by which he tears his prey; for there are in the East charmers of other fierce animals besides serpents. To these facts the Psalmist alludes; and this is the basis of the metaphor. On the subject of serpent-charming in the East, I cannot withhold from the reader the interesting remarks of Mr. Roberts, Wesleyan missionary to India, in his invaluable work on “Oriental Illustrations of the Sacred Scriptures.” “The kuravan, or “serpent-charmer,’” says he, “may be found in every village; and some who have gained great fame, actually live by the art. Occasionally they travel about the district, to exhibit their skill. In a basket they have several serpents, which they place on the ground. The kuravan then begins to play on his instrument, and to talk to the reptiles; at which they creep out, and commence mantling about, with their heads erect, and their hoods distended. After this, he stretches out his arm to them, which they affect to bite; and sometimes

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