Psalm 10:8
He sits in the lurking places of the villages: in the secret places does he murder the innocent: his eyes are privately set against the poor.
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(8) In lurking places . . .—i.e., in ambush.

Villages.—Properly, enclosed spaces, but then, like our “town” (ton, an enclosure), for any collection of dwellings; and in Leviticus 25:31, “an unwalled place”; applied also to a nomadic encampment (Genesis 25:16).

Privily set.—Literally, hid: i.e., watched secretly.

The poor.—The Hebrew word, occurring three times in this psalm (Psalm 10:10; Psalm 10:14), is peculiar to it. The root idea is darkness; hence here, by an easy transition, obscure, humble. Symmachus has “feeble.” But Mr. Burgess suggests that we may in all three places keep the root idea, darkness. Translate, his eyes hide (i.e., wait) for the darkness; and comp. Job 24:15. “The eye of the adulterer waiteth for the twilight.”

“The Arab robber lurks like a wolf among these sand-heaps, and often springs out suddenly upon the solitary traveller, robs him in a trice, and then plunges again into the wilderness of sandhills and reedy downs, where pursuit is fruitless. Our friends are careful not to allow us to straggle about or linger behind, and yet it seems absurd to fear a surprise here—Khaifa before our eyes, Acre in our rear, and travellers in sight on both sides. Robberies, however, do often occur just where we now are. Strange country; and it has always been so.”—Thomson, The Land and Book.

Psalm 10:8-9. He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages — Not within the villages, but in the ways bordering upon them, or leading to them, as robbers used to do. In the secret places — That he may avoid the shame and punishment of men; which is the only thing that he fears. His eyes are privily set — Hebrew, יצפנו, jitzponu, delitescunt, lie hid; skulk, or lurk. He watches, and looks out of his lurking place, to spy what passengers come that way. The allusion is still to the practice of robbers. As a lion in his den — Which lurks and waits for prey. He doth catch — יחתŠ, jachtop, snatch, or seize upon; the poor — Namely, with violence, and to devour or destroy him; when he draweth him — Or rather, by drawing him, or, after he hath drawn him, as במשׁכו, bemashecho, properly signifies, into his net. He lays snares for him, and when he takes him he tears him in pieces.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 sitteth in the lurking-places of the villages - As robbers do, who hide themselves in the vicinity of villages, that they make a sudden descent upon them in the silence of the night, or that they may seize and rob the inhabitants as they go forth in the morning to attend their flocks to the pastures, or to labor in the fields. The word rendered "villages" means properly an enclosure, as a court before a building; and then a village or hamlet, farm-buildings, or farm hamlets, usually erected around an open space; and it is then used to denote the encampment of nomadic tribes, who usually pitch their tents in a circle so as to form an enclosure, Genesis 25:16; Isaiah 42:11. In the neighborhood of such places - in the thickets, bushes, or ravines, that might be near such encampments or enclosures - robbers would naturally secrete themselves, that they might fall upon them suddenly, or that they might seize anyone who left the village or encampment for ally purpose. So Frazer remarks in his Travels in Chorasan, i.:437: "When the Turkomans design to fall upon a village, they take a position near it in the rear, until in the morning the unsuspecting inhabitants drive out their herds, or leave the villages for some other purpose, and then they suddenly fall upon them." DeWette, in loc.

In the secret places doth he murder the innocent - From these retreats he suddenly falls upon those who are unsuspicious, and who have done him no wrong. The word "innocent" here does not mean sinless in the absolute sense, but it means that they were innocent so far as the robber was concerned. They had done him no wrong; they had given him no occasion to make war upon them.

His eyes are privily set - Margin, "hide themselves." The Hebrew word means to hide, to conceal; to lay up in private; to hoard; to keep back; to hold back, etc. Here it means to conceal, to lurk in ambush; and the idea is that his eyes will secretly watch, or keep a lookout for them; that is, that his eyes, or that he himself will be concealed, that he may observe the goings of those whom he intends to make his prey.

Against the poor - Or, the wretched, the afflicted, the defenseless. The meaning is, that instead of being a helper of the poor and wretched, he is disposed to take every advantage of them, and deprive them of all their rights and comforts.

8. eyes … privily—He watches with half-closed eyes, appearing not to see. In the lurking places of the villages; not within the villages, which is not a fit place for lurking; but about them, in the ways bordering upon them, or leading to them, as robbers use to do.

In the secret places, that he may avoid the shame and punishment of men; which is the only thing that he fears.

Are privily set, Heb. are hid. The sense is either,

1. He winketh as men do when they shoot their arrows at a mark. Or rather,

2. He watcheth and looketh out of his lurking-place, to spy what passengers come that way. He alludes still to the practices of robbers. He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages,.... Which were by the wayside, where thieves and robbers harboured, and out of which they came, and robbed passengers as they came by. The word (f) signifies "palaces" or "courts": and so it is rendered by the Chaldee paraphrase and Syriac version; and so the allusion is not to mean thieves and robbers, but to persons of note and figure. Hence the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions, render it, "he sitteth in lurking places with the rich"; and may be fitly applied to the pope and his cardinals. Antichrist sits in the temple of God, and by his emissaries gets into the villages, the particular churches and congregations of saints, where they lie in ambush to do mischief, to corrupt their faith, worship, and manners; and like thieves and robbers enter in to steal, kill, and destroy;

in secret places doth he murder the innocent; the harmless lambs and sheep of Christ; who, though they are not without sin in themselves, yet are innocent with respect to the cause and the things for which they suffer: these are the saints and prophets and martyrs of Jesus, whose blood is shed by antichrist; and the taking away of their lives is reckoned murder with God; and is so styled in the Scriptures, Revelation 9:21; though the antichristian party call it doing God good service, and impute it to zeal for the good of holy church; and yet this they choose to do in secret, by private massacres, or by the inquisition; which having condemned men to death, delivers them over to the secular power to execute the sentence on them: just as the Jews delivered Christ to the Roman governor, to shift off the sin and blame from themselves; murder being what no one cares to be known in, or chargeable with;

his eyes are privily set against the poor: the word rendered "poor", is used nowhere but in this psalm, in which it is used three times, here, and in Psalm 10:1; and in the plural number in Psalm 10:10. It is translated "poor" both in the Chaldee paraphrase and Septuagint version, and in those that follow them. In the Arabic language it signifies "black" (g), and may design such who are black by reason of persecution and affliction, who go mourning all the day long on account of sin, their own and others; and because of the distresses and calamities of the church and people of God. These the eyes of the wicked watch and observe, and are set against them to do them all the mischief they can; their eyes are full of envy and indignation at them, though it is all in a private and secret way. The allusion is to thieves and robbers, who hide themselves in some secret place, and from thence look out for them that pass by, and narrowly observe whether they are for their purpose, and when it will be proper to come out and seize upon them.

(f) Symmachus in Drusius; "atriorum", Munster; so Hammond, Ainsworth, & Michaelis. (g) "Chalae, valde niger fuit", Golius, col. 646.

{d} He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages: in the secret places doth he murder the innocent: his eyes are privily set against the poor.

(d) He shows that the wicked have many ways to hide their cruelty and therefore should be even more feared.

8. He coucheth in ambush in the villages:

In the secret places doth he murder the innocent,

His eyes watch privily for the helpless.

The unwalled villages would be most exposed to the raids of marauders; and the country-folk, as Micah shews, suffered most from the oppression of the nobles.

Helpless (R.V.) or hapless (R.V. marg.) are good renderings of an obscure word peculiar to this psalm (Psalm 10:10; Psalm 10:14).

8–11. The wicked man’s crimes. He is described as a brigand, lying in wait to rob; as a lion lurking for its prey; as a hunter snaring his game. His victims are the innocent and defenceless poor.

The reference is probably to the bands of freebooters which, in the absence of a system of police, have always been common in the East. At no time was the country entirely free from them, and in periods of anarchy they would multiply rapidly. See Jdg 11:3; 1 Samuel 22:2; 2 Samuel 4:2; Hosea 6:9; St Luke 10:30. The emphatic warning of the wise man to his disciple in Proverbs 1:10-18 (a passage which should be studied in illustration of this Psalm) shews that such a life was common, and had strong attractions for young men.

But in all probability the Psalmist has also in view the powerful nobles who plundered their poorer neighbours, and made their lives intolerable by oppressive exactions. They were no better than the professed brigands, and no doubt did not shrink from actual murder. See the prophets generally, and in particular Micah’s bitter invective, Psalm 2:1-11; Psalm 3:1-3. Cp. Sir 13:18-19.Verse 8. - He sitteth in the lurking-places of the villages. These "lurking-places" must not be supposed to have been inside the villages, but outside of them They were retired spots at no great distance, where brigands or others might lie in ambush, ready to seize on such of the villagers as might show themselves. In the secret places doth he murder the innocent (comp. Job 24:14). The usual object would be, not murder, but robbery. Still, there would be cases where it would be convenient to remove a man, as Jezebel removed Naboth; and moreover, in every case of robbery, there is a chance that the victim may resist, and a struggle ensue, in which he may lose his life. His eyes are privily set against the poor; or, his eyes lay ambush for the helpless (Kay). The word translated" poor" (הֵלְכָה) is only found in this place and in ver. 10, where the antithesis of "strong ones" seems to imply that the weak and helpless are meant. The Psalm opens with the plaintive inquiry, why Jahve tarries in the deliverance of His oppressed people. It is not a complaining murmuring at the delay that is expressed by the question, but an ardent desire that God may not delay to act as it becomes His nature and His promise. למּה, which belongs to both members of the sentence, has the accent on the ultima, as e.g., before עזבתּני in Psalm 22:2, and before הרעתה in Exodus 5:22, in order that neither of the two gutturals, pointed with a, should be lost to the ear in rapid speaking (vid., on Psalm 3:8, and Luzzatto on Isaiah 11:2, נחה עליו).

(Note: According to the Masora למּה without Dag. is always Milra with the single exception of Job 7:20, and ימּה with Dag. is Milel; but, when the following closely connected word begins with one of the letters אהע it becomes Milra, with five exceptions, viz., Psalm 49:6; 1 Samuel 28:15; 2 Samuel 14:31 (three instances in which the guttural of the second word has the vowel i), and 2 Samuel 2:22, and Jeremiah 15:18. In the Babylonian system of pointing, למה is always written without Dag. and with the accent on the penultimate, vid., Pinsker, Einleitung in das Babylonish-hebrishce Punktationssystem, S. 182-184.)

For according to the primitive pronunciation (even before the Masoretic) it is to be read: lam h Adonaj; so that consequently ה and א are coincident. The poet asks why in the present hopeless condition of affairs (on בצּרה vid., on Psalm 9:10) Jahve stands in the distance (בּרחוק, only here, instead of מרחוק), as an idle spectator, and why does He cover (תּעלּים with orthophonic Dagesh, in order that it may not be pronounced תּעלים), viz., His eyes, so as not to see the desperate condition of His people, or also His ears (Lamentations 3:56) so as not to hear their supplication. For by the insolent treatment of the ungodly the poor burns with fear (Ges., Stier, Hupf.), not vexation (Hengst.). The assault is a πύρωσις, 1 Peter 4:12. The verb דּלק which calls to mind דּלּקת, πυρετός, is perhaps chosen with reference to the heat of feeling under oppression, which is the result of the persecution, of the (בּו) דּלק אחריו of the ungodly. There is no harshness in the transition from the singular to the plural, because עני and רשׁע are individualising designations of two different classes of men. The subject to יתּפשׁוּ is the עניּים, and the subject to חשׁבוּ is the רשׁעים. The futures describe what usually takes place. Those who, apart from this, are afflicted are held ensnared in the crafty and malicious devices which the ungodly have contrived and plotted against them, without being able to disentangle themselves. The punctuation, which places Tarcha by זוּ, mistakes the relative and interprets it: "in the plots there, which they have devised."

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