Psalm 10:10
He crouches, and humbles himself, that the poor may fall by his strong ones.
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(10) By his strong ones.—Possibly, by his strong claws, recurring to the metaphor of the lion. Some (Jerome, Perowne, and apparently Syriac), instead of “croucheth,” render “is crushed,” making the sufferer its subject. There is a various reading to the text, but in either case the image of the beast gathering himself together for a spring is admissible. Or, keeping the primary sense of darkness, render, he crouches and skulks, and lies darkly down in his strong places. This avoids the anomaly of taking the plural noun with a singular verb. For the adverbial use of the plural noun, see Isaiah 1:10; Psalm 139:14.

Psalm 10:10. He croucheth and humbleth himself — Like a lion (for he continues the same metaphor) which lies close upon the ground, partly that he may not be discovered, and partly that he may more suddenly and surely lay hold on his prey. “When the lion means to leap,” says the Jewish Arabic translator, “he first coucheth that he may gather himself together; then he rouseth himself, and puts out his strength, that he may tear his prey: therefore when he speaketh thee fair, beware of him: for this is but his deceit.” That the poor may fall — Or, taking the verb נפל, naphal, actively, (as Joshua 11:7; Job 1:15,) that he may fall upon the poor; that, having first couched and lain down, and then of a sudden rising, he may leap and fall upon his prey, like a lion. By his strong ones — His strong members, his teeth or paws.10:1-11 God's withdrawings are very grievous to his people, especially in times of trouble. We stand afar off from God by our unbelief, and then complain that God stands afar off from us. Passionate words against bad men do more hurt than good; if we speak of their badness, let it be to the Lord in prayer; he can make them better. The sinner proudly glories in his power and success. Wicked people will not seek after God, that is, will not call upon him. They live without prayer, and that is living without God. They have many thoughts, many objects and devices, but think not of the Lord in any of them; they have no submission to his will, nor aim for his glory. The cause of this is pride. Men think it below them to be religious. They could not break all the laws of justice and goodness toward man, if they had not first shaken off all sense of religion.He croucheth - Margin, "breaketh himself." Coverdale, "Then smiteth he, then oppresseth he." Prof. Alexander, "And bruised he will sink." Horsley, "And the overpowered man submits." Luther, "He slays, and thrusts down, and presses to the earth the poor with power." This variety of interpretation arises from some ambiguity in regard to the meaning of the original. The word rendered "croucheth" - ודכה, in the Kethib (the text) - is in the Qeri' (margin), ידכה, "and crushed, he sinks down." There is some uncertainty about the form in which the word is used, but it is certain that it does not mean, as in our translation, "he croucheth." The word דכה dâkâh, properly means to be broken in pieces, to be crushed; and this idea runs through all the forms in which the word occurs. The true idea, it seems to me, is that this does not refer to the wicked man, but to his victim or victims, represented here by a word in the collective singular; and the meaning is that such a victim, crushed and broken down, sinks under the power of the persecutor and oppressor. "And the crushed one sinks down."

And humbleth himself - The word used here - ישׁח yāśoch - from שׁוּח śûch - means to sink down; to settle down. Here it means to sink down as one does who is overcome or oppressed, or who is smitten to the earth. The idea is, that he is crushed or smitten by the wicked, and sinks to the ground.

That the poor may fall - Rather, as in the original, "and the poor fall;" that is, they do fall. The idea is, that they do in fact fall by the arm of the persecutor and oppressor who treads them down.

By his strong ones - Margin, "Or, into his strong parts." The text here best expresses the sense. The reference is to the strong ones - the followers and abettors of the "wicked" here referred to - his train of followers. The allusion seems to be to this wicked man represented as the head or leader of a band of robbers or outlaws - strong, athletic men engaged under him in committing robbery on the unprotected. See Psalm 10:8-9. Under these strong men the poor and the unprotected fall, and are crushed to the earth. The meaning of the whole verse, therefore, may be thus expressed: "And the crushed one sinks down, and the poor fall under his mighty ones." The word rendered "poor" is in the plural, while the verb "fall" is in the singular; but this construction is not uncommon when the verb precedes. Nordheimer, Hebrew Grammar, Section 759, i., a. The word rendered "poor" means the wretched or the afflicted, and refers here to those who were unprotected - the victims of oppression and robbery.

The following account of the condition of Palestine at the present time will illustrate the passage here, and show how true the statements of the psalmist are to nature. It occurs in "The land and the Book," by W. M. Thomson, D. D., Missionary in Syria. He is speaking of the sandy beach, or the sand hills, in the neighborhood of Mount Carmel, and says, respecting these "sandy downs, with feathery reeds, running far inland, the chosen retreat of wild boars and wild Arabs," "The Arab robber larks like a wolf among these sand heaps, and often springs out suddenly upon the solitary traveler, robs him in a trice, and then plunges again into the wilderness of sand hills and reedy downs, where pursuit is fruitless. Our friends are careful not to allow us to straggle about or lag behind, and yet it seems absurd to fear a surprise here - Khaifa before, and Acre in the rear, and travelers in sight on both sides. Robberies, however, do often occur, just where we now are. Strange country! and it has always been so." And then quoting the passage before us Psalm 10:8-10, he adds, "A thousand rascals, the living originals of this picture, are this day crouching and lying in wait all over the country to catch poor helpless travelers. You observe that all these people we meet or pass are armed; nor would they venture to go from Acre to Khaifa without their musket, although the cannon of the castles seem to command every foot of the way." Vol. i., pp. 487, 488.

10. croucheth—as a lion gathers himself into as small compass as possible to make the greater spring.

fall by his strong ones—The figure of the lion is dropped, and this phrase means the accomplices of the chief or leading wicked man.

Like a lion, (for he continues the same metaphor,) which gathereth himself together, and lies close upon the ground, partly that he may not be discovered, and partly that he may more suddenly, and surely, and fiercely lay hold upon his prey. But for this translation, because this and is not in the Hebrew, and there is another and there prefixed to the first verb, some join that first verb to the end of the 10th verse, and render the place thus, he catcheth the poor by drawing him into his net, and breaks him to pieces, as that verb properly signifies. So there is only a detect of the pronoun, which is most frequent. And this makes the sense complete, which otherwise would be imperfect in that verse, and showeth us what he doth with his prey when he hath taken it. And this 10th verse begins very well with the next verb,

he humbleth himself; or, he stoops, or bends himself.

That the poor may fall; or, that he may fall (for this verb is sometimes taken actively, as Joshua 11:7 Job 1:15) upon the poor; that having first crouched and lain down, and then of a sudden rising, he may leap and fall upon his prey, like a lion.

By his strong ones, i.e. by his strong members, his teeth or paws. So it is an ellipsis of the noun substantive; whereof we have examples, as 2 Samuel 21:16, new for a new sword; and Psalm 73:10, full for a full cup; and Matthew 10:42, cold for cold water. He croucheth and humbleth himself,.... As the lion before he leaps and seizes on his prey, and as the fowler creepeth upon the ground to draw the bird into his net and catch it; so the antichristian beast has two horns like a lamb; though he has the mouth of a lion, and speaks like a dragon, he would be thought to be like the Lamb of God, meek, and lowly, and humble, and therefore calls himself "servus servorum", "the servant of servants"; but his end is,

that the poor may fall by his strong ones; the word for "poor" is here used, as before observed on Psalm 10:8, in the plural number, and is read by the Masorites as two words, though it is written as one, and is by them and other Jewish writers (h) interpreted a multitude, company, or army of poor ones, whose strength is worn out; these weak and feeble ones antichrist causes to fall by his strong ones; either by his strong decrees, cruel edicts, and severe punishments, as by sword, by flame, by captivity and by spoils, Daniel 11:33; or by the kings of the earth and their armies, their mighty men of war, their soldiers, whom he instigates and influences to persecute their subjects, who will not receive his mark in their right hands or foreheads, Revelation 13:15. It is very observable, that those persecuted by antichrist are so often in this prophetic psalm called "poor"; and it is also remarkable, that there were a set of men in the darkest times of Popery, and who were persecuted by the Papists, called the "poor" men of Lyons: the whole verse may be rendered and paraphrased thus, "he tears in pieces", that is, the poor, whom he catches in his net; "he boweth himself", as the lion does, as before observed; "that he may fall", or rush upon; with his strong ones, his mighty armies, "upon the multitude of the poor".

(h) Jarchi, Kimchi, & Ben Melech in loc.

He croucheth, and humbleth himself, that the {e} poor may fall by his strong ones.

(e) By the hypocrisy of them who have authority the poor are devoured.

10. We may render with R.V.

He croucheth, he boweth down,

And the helpless fall by his strong ones.

An obscure verse. According to the rendering of the R.V., which follows the traditional reading (Qrç), the figure of the lion is resumed. The word rendered boweth down is used of a lion couching in Job 38:40, the whole of which verse should be compared with Psalm 10:9-10. His strong ones is explained to mean his claws.

But it seems preferable to regard the poor as the subject, and, neglecting the Massoretic accents, to render: He is crushed, he boweth down and falleth; (yea) the helpless (fall) by his strong ones: i.e. the ruffians of the wicked man’s retinue. The R.V. marg., And being crushed, follows the reading of the text (Kthîbh), and gives the same sense.Verse 10. - He croucheth, and humbleth himself; rather, crushed, he sinks down. The subject is changed, and the poor man's condition spoken cf. That the poor may fall by his strong ones; rather, and the helpless (comp. ver. 8)fall by his strong ones. The "strong ones" are the ruffians whom the wicked man employs to effect his purposes. The prominent features of the situation are supported by a detailed description. The praett. express those features of their character that have become a matter of actual experience. הלּל, to praise aloud, generally with the accus., is here used with על of the thing which calls forth praise. Far from hiding the shameful desire or passion (Psalm 112:10) of his soul, he makes it an object and ground of high and sounding praise, imagining himself to be above all restraint human or divine. Hupfeld translates wrongly: "and he blesses the plunderer, he blasphemes Jahve." But the רשׁע who persecutes the godly, is himself a בּצע a covetous or rapacious person; for such is the designation (elsewhere with בּצע Proverbs 1:19, or רע בּצע Habakkuk 2:9) not merely of one who "cuts off" (Arab. bḍ‛), i.e., obtains unjust gain, by trading, but also by plunder, πλεονέκτης. The verb בּרך (here in connection with Mugrash, as in Numbers 23:20 with Tiphcha בּרך) never directly signifies maledicere in biblical Hebrew as it does in the alter Talmudic (whence בּרכּת השּׁם blasphemy, B. Sanhedrin 56a, and frequently), but to take leave of any one with a benediction, and then to bid farewell, to dismiss, to decline and abandon generally, Job 1:5, and frequently (cf. the word remercier, abdanken; and the phrase "das Zeitliche segnen" equals to depart this life). The declaration without a conjunction is climactic, like Isaiah 1:4; Amos 4:5; Jeremiah 15:7. נאץ, properly to prick, sting, is sued of utter rejection by word and deed.

(Note: Pasek stands between נאץ and יהוה, because to blaspheme God is a terrible thought and not to be spoken of without hesitancy, cf. the Pasek in Psalm 74:18; Psalm 89:52; Isaiah 37:24 (2 Kings 19:23).)

In Psalm 10:4, "the evil-doer according to his haughtiness" (cf. Proverbs 16:18) is nom. absol., and בּל־ידרשׁ אין אלהים (contrary to the accentuation) is virtually the predicate to כּל־מזמּותיו. This word, which denotes the intrigues of the ungodly, in Psalm 10:2, has in this verse, the general meaning: thoughts (from זמם, Arab. zmm, to join, combine), but not without being easily associated with the secondary idea of that which is subtly devised. The whole texture of his thoughts is, i.e., proceeds from and tends towards the thought, that he (viz., Jahve, whom he does not like to name) will punish with nothing (בּל the strongest form of subjective negation), that in fact there is no God at all. This second follows from the first; for to deny the existence of a living, acting, all-punishing (in one word: a personal) God, is equivalent to denying the existence of any real and true God whatever (Ewald).

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