Psalm 120:7
I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war.
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(7) I am for peace.—For the pregnant, “I peace,” see Note, Psalm 109:3. Both pronouns, I and they, are emphatic. No doubt these verses are intended to indicate the nature of the malicious speeches mentioned in Psalm 120:2-3. We imagine Israel in peculiarly difficult political relations under the Persians, possibly very soon after the Return, trying to keep in favour and peace with the ruling powers, but continually drawn into trouble by the jealousy and bitterness of other subject tribes. (See Introduction.)

120:5-7 It is very grievous to a good man, to be cast into, and kept in the company of the wicked, from whom he hopes to be for ever separated. See here the character of a good man; he is for living peaceably with all men. And let us follow David as he prefigured Christ; in our distress let us cry unto the Lord, and he will hear us. Let us follow after peace and holiness, striving to overcome evil with good.I am for peace - Margin, "A man of peace." Literally, "I (am) peace." It is my nature. I desire to live in peace. I strive to do so. I do nothing to provoke a quarrel. I would do anything which would be right to pacify others. I would make any sacrifices, yield to any, demands, consent to any arrangements which would promise peace.

But when I speak - When I say anything on the subject, when I propose any new arrangements, when I suggest any changes, when I give utterance to my painful feelings, and express a desire to live differently - they will listen to nothing; they will be satisfied with nothing.

They are for war - For discord, variance, strife. All my efforts to live in peace are vain. They are determined to quarrel, and I cannot prevent it.

(a) A man in such a case should separate from such a person, if possible, as the only way of peace.

(b) If his position and relations are such that that cannot be done, then he should be careful that he does nothing himself to irritate and to keep up the strife.

(c) If all that he does or can do for peace is vain, and if his relations and position are such that he cannot separate, then he should bear it patiently - as coming from God, and as the discipline of his life. God has many ways of testing the patience and faith of his people, and there are few things which will do so more effectually than this; few situations where piety will shine more beautifully than in such a trial;

(d) He who is thus tried should look with the more earnestness of desire to another world. There is a world of peace; and the peace of heaven will be all the more grateful and blessed when we go up to it from such a scene of conflict and war.

6, 7. While those who surrounded him were maliciously hostile, he was disposed to peace. This Psalm may well begin such a series as this, as a contrast to the promised joys of God's worship. No text from Poole on this verse. I am for peace,.... Am wholly peace; a man of peace, as Aben Ezra; of a peaceable disposition, devoted to peace; love it, seek and pursue it, as every good man does, who is called to it, and in whose heart it rules: such follow peace with all men, and the things which make for it; and, as much as in them lies, endeavour to live peaceably with all;

but when I speak, they are for war; make a motion for peace, and propose the terms of it, they declare against it, and for war: or when he spoke of the things of God, and of his experience of them, of the word of God, and of the truths of it, and of what he believed, Psalm 116:10; and especially when he gave good counsel and advice to them, and reproved them for their sins, they could not bear it; but hated him for it, and proclaimed war against him; and could not behave peaceably to him in any degree, but became his avowed, sworn, and implacable enemies. The Targum is,

"when I prayed;''

either prayed to God, that they did not like; or prayed for peace with them, that they would not grant; but became more imbittered against him.

I am for {g} peace: but when I speak, they are for war.

(g) He declares what he means by Meshech and Kedar, that is, the Israelites who had degenerated from their godly fathers, and hated and contended against the faithful.

7. Lit. I am peace: cp. Psalm 109:4, “I am prayer.”

but when I speak &c.] If I so much as speak to them, or perhaps, as P.B.V., “speak unto them thereof,” make overtures of friendship, they threaten fiercer hostility.Verse 7. - I am for peace; literally, I am peace; but the meaning is as given in the Authorized Version. But when I speak (i.e. when I speak to them of peace), they are for war; i.e. they are utterly averse to peace, and are bent on continual hostility. The general history bears out this statement. There is only one apparent exception. When the Jews returned from the Captivity and began to build the temple, the Samaritans offered to join with them (Ezra 4:2). But the Samaritan offer was, perhaps, insincere. At any rate, when it was refused, they became the most bitter opponents of the Jews.

According to the pointing ויּענני, the poet appears to base his present petition, which from Psalm 120:2 onwards is the substance of the whole Psalm, upon the fact of a previous answering of his prayers. For the petition in Psalm 120:2 manifestly arises out of his deplorable situation, which is described in Psalm 120:5. Nevertheless there are also other instances in which ויענני might have been expected, where the pointing is ויּענני (Psalm 3:5; Jonah 2:3), so that consequently ויּענני may, without any prejudice to the pointing, be taken as a believing expression of the result (cf. the future of the consequence in Job 9:16) of the present cry for help. צרתה, according to the original signification, is a form of the definition of a state or condition, as in Psalm 3:3; Psalm 44:27; Psalm 63:8, Jonah 2:10, Hosea 8:7, and בּצּרתה לּי equals בּצּר־לּי, Psalm 18:7, is based upon the customary expression צר לּי. In Psalm 120:2 follows the petition which the poet sends up to Jahve in the certainty of being answered. רמיּה beside לשׁון, although there is no masc. רמי (cf. however the Aramaic רמּי, רמּאי), is taken as an adjective after the form טריּה, עניּה, which it is also perhaps in Micah 6:12. The parallelism would make לשׁון natural, like לשׁון מרמה in Psalm 52:6; the pointing, which nevertheless disregarded this, will therefore rest upon tradition. The apostrophe in Psalm 120:3 is addressed to the crafty tongue. לשׁון is certainly feminine as a rule; but whilst the tongue as such is feminine, the לשׁון רמיה of the address, as in Psalm 52:6, refers to him who has such a kind of tongue (cf. Hitzig on Proverbs 12:27), and thereby the לך is justified; whereas the rendering, "what does it bring to thee, and what does it profit thee?" or, "of what use to thee and what advancement to thee is the crafty tongue?" is indeed possible so far as concerns the syntax (Ges. 147, e), but is unlikely as being ambiguous and confusing in expression. It is also to be inferred from the correspondence between מה־יּתּן לך וּמה־יּסיף לך and the formula of an oath כּה יעשׂה־לּך אלהים לכה יוסיף, 1 Samuel 3:17; 1 Samuel 20:13; 1 Samuel 25:22; 2 Samuel 3:35; Ruth 1:17, that God is to be thought of as the subject of יתן and יסיף: "what will," or rather, in accordance with the otherwise precative use of the formula and with the petition that here precedes: "what shall He (is He to) give to thee (נתן as in Hosea 9:14), and what shall He add to thee, thou crafty tongue?" The reciprocal relation of Psalm 120:4 to מה־יתן, and of. Psalm 120:4 with the superadding עם to מה־יסיף, shows that Psalm 120:4 is not now a characterizing of the tongue that continues the apostrophe to it, as Ewald supposes. Consequently Psalm 120:4 gives the answer to Psalm 120:3 with the twofold punishment which Jahve will cause the false tongue to feel. The question which the poet, sure of the answering of his cry for help, puts to the false tongue is designed to let the person addressed hear by a flight of sarcasm what he has to expect. The evil tongue is a sharp sword (Psalm 57:5), a pointed arrow (Jeremiah 9:7), and it is like a fire kindled of hell (James 3:6). The punishment, too, corresponds to this its nature and conduct (Psalm 64:4). The "mighty one" (lxx δυνατός) is God Himself, as it is observed in B. Erachin 15b with a reference to Isaiah 42:13 : "There is none mighty by the Holy One, blessed is He." He requites the evil tongue like with like. Arrows and coals (Psalm 140:11) appear also in other instances among His means of punishment. It, which shot piercing arrows, is pierced by the sharpened arrows of an irresistibly mighty One; it, which set its neighbour in a fever of anguish, must endure the lasting, sure, and torturingly consuming heat of broom-coals. The lxx renders it in a general sense, σὺν τοῖς ἄνθραξι τοῖς ἐρημικοῖς; Aquila, following Jewish tradition, ἀρκευθίναις; but רתם, Arabic ratam, ratem, is the broom-shrub (e.g., uncommonly frequent in the Belkâ).
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