Psalm 35:15
But in mine adversity they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together: yea, the abjects gathered themselves together against me, and I knew it not; they did tear me, and ceased not:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) In mine adversity.—Better, at my fall.

The abjects . . .—The Hebrew word occurs only here. It is derived from a root meaning to smite, but its form is perplexing. The ancient versions all give it an active sense. LXX. and Vulg. “whips”; Symmachus, “smiters”; Chaldee, “the wicked who smite me with their words,” probably a correct paraphrase. The passive, “these smitten,” or “objects,” is due to R. Kimchi.

And I knew it noti.e., either (1) “unawares,” as in Psalm 35:8; (2) “for what reason I knew not”; (3) “whom I knew not”; (4) “and I was innocent.” Of these possible explanations (2) is to be preferred.

Psalm 35:15-16. But in mine adversity — Hebrew, בצלעי, betzalgni, in my halting, that is, when I was in great danger of falling into mischief. When I had any sickness or ill success in my affairs, and was almost lost, for such are often said to halt, in the Scripture; they rejoiced and gathered themselves together — These very men (such was their inhumanity!) could not dissemble the joy they conceived when the news was brought of any evil that befell me, but ran to tell one another, and assembled themselves together that they might publicly testify how glad they were to hear it. Yea, the very abjects — Hebrew, נכים, neechim, loripedes, the bow-legged, or, lame. It means, properly, percussi aut læsi pedibus, persons wounded or hurt in their feet. The sense is, vile persons, the very scum of the people, persons so mean that I did not so much as know there were such men in the world, met together to revile me; nay, the cripples, who could not walk without trouble and pain, were as forward as any others to go to these meetings on this occasion. They did tear me — That is, my good name, with scoffs, and calumnies, and reproaches, and curses; and ceased not — Hebrew, ולא דמו, velo damu, were not silent, that is, they acted thus unweariedly and continually; with hypocritical, or profane, mockers — Whose common practice it was to scoff at, and deride, others; in feasts — Hebrew, לעגי מעוג, sanniones placentæ, vel cibi, buffoons, or jesters, for a cake, or morsel of bread; namely, parasites, qui gulæ causa aliis adulantur, says Buxtorf, who flatter others for the sake of their belly. They made themselves buffoons and jesters, and accustomed themselves to mock and deride David, that they might gain admittance to the tables of great men, where they might fill their bellies, which was all that they sought, or got by such conduct. They gnashed upon me with their teeth — They used all expressions of rage and hatred against me, which they did to curry favour with my great and powerful adversaries. The indignities and outrage which the Lord Jesus endured from the Jews seem to be plainly foretold in these two verses. See Mark 14:65.

35:11-16 Call a man ungrateful, and you can call him no worse: this was the character of David's enemies. Herein he was a type of Christ. David shows how tenderly he had behaved towards them in afflictions. We ought to mourn for the sins of those who do not mourn for themselves. We shall not lose by the good offices we do to any, how ungrateful soever they may be. Let us learn to possess our souls in patience and meekness like David, or rather after Christ's example.But in mine adversity they rejoiced - Margin, as in Hebrew, "halting." That is, when reverses and troubles came upon me; when, in my journey of life, I seemed to stumble.

And gathered themselves together - Not to help me, but to oppose me, and to deride me.

Yea, the abjects gathered themselves together against me - The word rendered "abjects" - נכים nēkiym - has been very variously rendered. The Septuagint renders it: μάστιγις mastiges, "scourges;" so the Vulgate, "flagella." Our translators evidently regarded it as meaning the low, the vile, the outcasts of society; but this idea is not necessarily implied in the Hebrew word. The word used here is derived from a verb - נכה nâkâh - which means to smite, to strike, to beat; and it would be correctly rendered in this place, "those smiting," or "beating:" - "the smiters." But probably the allusion is to the "tongue" - to those who, as it were, smite or beat with the tongue; that is, who rail or revile: those who are slanderous. Compare Jeremiah 18:18; Gesenius (Lexicon). Others have supposed that it means "lame;" that is, those who limp or halt - meaning that all classes of persons gathered themselves together. But probably the true idea is that which is expressed above, that he was surrounded by slanderers and revilers.

And I knew it not - Hebrew, "I knew not;" that is, I knew nothing of what they accused me of; I was wholly ignorant of the charges brought against me. See the notes at Psalm 35:11.

They did tear me - See the notes at Job 16:9. The idea here is that they "tore" or "rent" with words; or, as we say in English, they "tore him in pieces;" that is, they railed at, or reviled him, tearing his character in pieces.

And ceased not - It was not one act only; it was continuous and unceasing. They did it when alone; and they gathered themselves together to do it; they countenanced and encouraged one another.

15, 16. On the contrary, they rejoiced in his affliction. Halting, or, "lameness," as in Ps 38:17 for any distress.

abjects—either as cripples (compare 2Sa 4:4), contemptible; or, degraded persons, such as had been beaten (compare Job 30:1-8).

I knew it not—either the persons, or, reasons of such conduct.

tear me, and ceased not—literally, "were not silent"—showing that the tearing meant slandering.

In mine adversity, Heb. in my halting, i.e. when I was in great danger of falling into mischief; when I had any sickness, or ill success in my affairs, and was almost lost; for such are said to halt, Micah 4:6,7 Zep 3:19. See also Psalm 38:17 Jeremiah 20:10.

Gathered themselves together, to wit, against me, as it is expressed in the next clause; either because they were so full of joy at the tidings, that they could not contain it in their own breasts, but sought to communicate it to others; or that they might insult over me, and please and recreate themselves and one another with discourses about it; or that they might consult how to improve the advantage which they now had against me, to my utter destruction. The objects; or, vile persons; either for the meanness of their condition, of for their wickedness, for which they were worthy to be beaten, as the phrase is, Deu 25:2; where the Hebrew word is of the same root with this. Or, the lame, as this very word is rendered, 2 Samuel 4:4 9:3, to wit, of their feet, as it is there expressed. The cripples that could not walk without trouble and pain, were as forward as any to go to these meetings upon this occasion.

I knew it not: this may be added to express either their hypocrisy and pretences of respect and affection to him, by reason whereof he had no suspicion of them, nor of any such practices of theirs; or his own danger, that he did not know, and therefore could not prevent, their plots and conspiracies against him. Heb. and I knew not; which is by others, and well may be, rendered thus, even they whom I knew not, they whom I was so far from provoking by any injury, that I never saw their faces, nor heard of their names.

Tear me, i.e. my good name, with scoffs, and calumnies, and reproaches, and curses.

Ceased not, Heb. were not silent, i.e. did thus unweariedly and continually.

But in mine adversity they rejoiced,.... Or "at my halting" (u), either by means of falling into sin; good men are subject to slips and falls, and that to the dislocating or breaking of their bones, which cause them to go halting all their days; wicked men watch for their halting, as Jeremiah's familiars did for his, Jeremiah 20:10; and rejoice at it; see Psalm 38:16; or by falling into some misfortune or calamity; hence we render it "adversity", and may design some affliction or other, as in Micah 4:6, at which wicked men rejoice; see Ezekiel 35:15; so David's enemies rejoiced at his afflictions; and the enemies of his son and antitype, the Lord Jesus Christ, were glad when Judas offered to betray him to them; more so when they had got him into their hands; and most of all when he was condemned and crucified: and so do the enemies of his people, as the Philistines sported with Samson when he was in his adversity, and as the antichristian party will rejoice and send gifts one to another when the two witnesses are slain; but the saints have a gracious God, who knows their souls in adversity; a sympathizing high priest, who is touched with a feeling of their infirmities; and fellow saints that are afflicted with them in all their afflictions, and bear a part of their burdens;

and gathered themselves together; not to pity him, but to insult him; not to help him in his distress, but to add to it;

yea, the abjects gathered themselves together against me; mean persons, the refuse and scum of the earth; such as Job describes, Job 30:1; the word may be rendered "smitten" (w), either in spirit, as in Isaiah 66:2; they pretending sorrow of heart for his troubles; or rather smitten in body, in their feet, as Mephibosheth was; yet as lame as they were, and notwithstanding their lameness, they got together to rejoice at David's halting: or it may be best of all to understand it of their being smitten of God and afflicted; and the sense may be, that though the hand of God was upon them, this did not deter them from gathering together to insult David in his afflictions; some render the word "smiters" (x), that is, with their tongues, and so the Targum, "the wicked who smite with their words"; see Jeremiah 18:18; and such sort of persons were they that gathered together against Christ: it is true indeed that some of them were men of rank and figure, were the princes of this world, as Herod and Pontius Pilate, and the Jewish rulers, Acts 4:27, compared with Psalm 2:1; but the greater part of them were the meaner sort of people; particularly the Roman soldiers that gathered about him, and sported with him in Pilate's hall, and that surrounded him with scoffs when upon the cross; these also were literally "smiters" of him, both with words and with their hands, and are so called, Isaiah 50:6;

and I knew it not; David knew his enemies, or he could not have shown so much concern for them, as he did in the preceding verses; but either he knew not of their gathering together against him; until he saw them in great numbers about him; or he was not conscious to himself of any evil he had done them, that should be the reason of it; and this was the case of his son the Messiah, he who they were that gathered about him, even those that blindfolded him, and bid him prophesy who smote him; but he knew no sin he had done why he should be treated in the manner he was;

they did tear me, and ceased not; not their own garments, as some supply it, pretending great grief of heart for him; nor their mouth with laughing at him, as others; see Psalm 35:21; but either his character and reputation, with hard sayings and reproachful words, or his flesh with blows; and this they did incessantly; and which was literally true of Christ, whose enemies tore his flesh, by plucking off the hair, by buffeting and scourging him, and by piercing his hands and his feet with nails, when they crucified him; and they ceased not, even after death, to pierce his side with a spear.

(u) "in claudicatione mea", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Gejerus, Michaelis; so Ainsworth. (w) "percussi", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Cocceius. (x) So Ainsworth.

But in mine {m} adversity they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together: yea, the abjects gathered themselves together against me, and I knew it not; they did tear {n} me, and ceased not:

(m) When they thought me ready to slip and as one that limped for infirmity.

(n) With their railing words.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15. But at my halting they rejoice, and gather themselves together. Limping, like stumbling, is a figure for misfortune. Cp. Psalm 38:17; Jeremiah 20:10.

Yea, the abjects] The word rendered abjects is of doubtful meaning and possibly corrupt. (1) According to the rendering of A.V., retained by R.V., the sense is, that with his other enemies were associated the lowest outcasts, a rabble of men whom he knew not (Job 30:8 ff.); for the last words of the line must be rendered with R.V. marg., and those whom I knew not. (2) But the form of the sentence rather points to a description of the conduct of the men who have been mentioned already: so (retaining or slightly altering the present text), they gather themselves together smiting me unawares, or, for things that I know not. The wounds of slander are meant (Jeremiah 18:18). So the Targum: wicked men who smite me with their words. (3) Various emendations have been proposed. One that has found some favour, strangers, is foreign to the rest of the Psalm.

they did tear me &c.] They rend me, and cease not. Like beasts of prey (Hosea 13:8); or as we talk of tearing a man’s reputation to shreds. ‘Making mouths’ in P.B.V. is a modernisation of ‘making mowes’, i.e. grimaces, which is found in the Great Bible and the early editions of the Prayer Book.

Verse 15. - But in mine adversity they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together; rather, in my fall, or in my halting; "when I halted" (Revised Version). "The word implies a sudden slip and overthrow," such as is represented in 1 Samuel 18:8-29. Yea, the abjects gathered themselves together against me. Compare the case of Job (Job 30:1-14). It is a matter of common experience that when men fall from a high position into misfortune, the base vulgar crowd always turns against them with scoffs and jeers and every sort of contumely. And I knew it not; rather, and I knew them not; men, i.e., of so low a condition, that I had no acquaintance with them (see the margin of the Revised Version). They did tear me, and ceased not (comp. Job 16:9). Psalm 35:15The second part begins with two strophes of sorrowful description of the wickedness of the enemy. The futures in Psalm 35:11, Psalm 35:12 describe that which at present takes place. עדי חמס are μάρτυρες ἄδικοι (lxx). They demand from him a confession of acts and things which lie entirely outside his consciousness and his way of acting (cf. Psalm 69:5): they would gladly brand him as a perjurer, as an usurper, and as a plunderer. What David complains of in Psalm 35:12, we hear Saul confess in 1 Samuel 24:18; the charge of ingratitude is therefore well-grounded. שׁכול לנפשׁי is not dependent on ישׁלּמוּני, in which case one would have looked for כּשׁול rather than שׁכול, but a substantival clause: "bereavement is to my soul," its condition is that of being forsaken by all those who formerly showed me marks of affection; all these have, as it were, died off so far as I am concerned. Not only had David been obliged to save his parents by causing them to flee to Moab, but Michal was also torn from him, Jonathan removed, and all those at the court of Saul, who had hitherto sought the favour and friendship of the highly-gifted and highly-honoured son-in-law of the king, were alienated from him. And how sincerely and sympathisingly had he reciprocated their leanings towards himself! By ואני in Psalm 35:13, he contrasts himself with the ungrateful and unfeeling ones. Instead of לבשׁתּי שׁק, the expression is לבוּשׁי שׁק; the tendency of poetry for the use of the substantival clause is closely allied to its fondness for well-conceived brevity and pictorial definition. He manifested towards them a love which knew no distinction between the ego and tu, which regarded their sorrow and their guilt as his own, and joined with them in their expiation for it; his head was lowered upon his breast, or he cowered, like Elijah (1 Kings 18:42), upon the ground with his head hanging down upon his breast even to his knees, so that that which came forth from the inmost depths of his nature returned again as it were in broken accents into his bosom. Riehm's rendering, "at their ungodliness and hostility my prayer for things not executed came back," is contrary to the connection, and makes one look for אלי instead of אל־חיקי. Perret-Gentil correctly renders it, Je priai la tte penche sur la poitrine.

The Psalmist goes on to say in Psalm 35:14, I went about as for a friend, for a brother to me, i.e., as if the sufferer had been such to me. With התחלּך, used of the solemn slowness of gait, which corresponds to the sacredness of pain, alternates שׁחח used of the being bowed down very low, in which the heavy weight of pain finds expression. כּאבל־אם, not: like the mourning (from אבל, like הבל from הבל) of a mother (Hitzig), but, since a personal אבל is more natural, and next to the mourning for an only child the loss of a mother (cf. Genesis 24:67) strikes the deepest wound: like one who mourns (אבל־,

(Note: According to the old Babylonian reading (belonging to a period when Pathach and Segol were as yet not distinguished from one another), כּאבל (with the sign of Pathach and the stroke for Raphe below equals ); vid., Pinsker, Zur Geschichte des Karaismus, S. 141, and Einleitung, S. 118.)

like לבן־, Genesis 49:12, from אבל, construct state, like טמא) for a mother (the objective genitive, as in Genesis 27:41; Deuteronomy 34:8; Amos 8:10; Jeremiah 6:26). קדר signifies the colours, outward appearance, and attire of mourning: with dark clothes, with tearful unwashed face, and with neglected beard. But as for them - how do they act at the present time, when he finds himself in צלע (Psalm 38:17; Job 18:12), a sideway direction, i.e., likely to fall (from צלע, Arab. ḍl‛, to incline towards the side)? They rejoice and gather themselves together, and this assemblage of ungrateful friends rejoicing over another's misfortune, is augmented by the lowest rabble that attach themselves to them. The verb נכה means to smite; Niph. נכּא, Job 30:6, to be driven forth with a whip, after which the lxx renders it μάστιγες, Symm. πλῆκται, and the Targum conterentes me verbis suis; cf. הכּה בּלשׂון, Jeremiah 18:18. But נכים cannot by itself mean smiters with the tongue. The adjective נכה signifies elsewhere with רגלים, one who is smitten in the feet, i.e., one who limps or halts, and with רוּח, but also without any addition, in Isaiah 16:7, one smitten in spirit, i.e., one deeply troubled or sorrowful. Thus, therefore, נכים from נכה, like גּאים from גּאה, may mean smitten, men, i.e., men who are brought low or reduced (Hengstenberg). It might also, after the Arabic nawika, to be injured in mind, anwak, stupid, silly (from the same root נך, to prick, smite, wound, cf. ichtalla, to be pierced through equals mad), be understood as those mentally deranged, enraged at nothing or without cause. But the former definition of the notion of the word is favoured by the continuation of the idea of the verbal adjective נכים by ולא ידעתּי, persons of whom I have hitherto taken no notice because they were far removed from me, i.e., men belonging to the dregs of the people (cf. Job 19:18; Job 30:1). The addition of ולא ידעתי certainly makes Olshausen's conjecture that we should read נכרים somewhat natural; but the expression then becomes tautological, and there are other instances also in which psalm-poesy goes beyond the ordinary range of words, in order to find language to describe that which is loathsome, in the most glaring way. פרע, to tear, rend in pieces, viz., with abusive and slanderous words (like Arab. qr‛ II) also does not occur anywhere else.

And what remarkable language we now meet with in Psalm 35:16! מעוג does not mean scorn or buffoonery, as Bttcher and Hitzig imagine,

(Note: The Talmudic עגה (לשׁון), B. Sanhedrin 101b, which is said to mean "a jesting way of speaking," has all the less place here, as the reading wavers between עגה (עגא) and אגא.)

but according to 1 Kings 17:12, a cake of a round formation (like the Talmudic עגּה, a circle); לעג, jeering, jesting. Therefore לעגי מעוג means: mockers for a cake, i.e., those who for a delicate morsel, for the sake of dainty fare, make scornful jokes, viz., about me, the persecuted one, vile parasites; German Tellerlecker, Bratenriecher, Greek κνισσοκόλακες, ψωμοκόλακες, Mediaeval Latin buccellarii. This לעגי מלוג, which even Rashi interprets in substantially the same manner, stands either in a logical co-ordinate relation (vid., on Isaiah 19:11) or in a logical as well as grammatical subordinate relation to its regens חנפי. In the former case, it would be equivalent to: the profane, viz., the cake-jesters; in the latter, which is the more natural, and quite suitable: the profane ( equals the profanest, vid., Psalm 45:13; Isaiah 29:19; Ezekiel 7:24) among cake-jesters. The בּ is not the Beth of companionship or fellowship, to express which עם or את (Hosea 7:5) would have been used, but Beth essentiae or the Beth of characterisation: in the character of the most abject examples of this class of men do they gnash upon him with their teeth. The gerund חרק (of the noise of the teeth being pressed together, like Arab. ḥrq, of the crackling of a fire and the grating of a file), which is used according to Ges. 131, 4, b, carries its subject in itself. They gnash upon him with their teeth after the manner of the profanest among those, by whom their neighbour's honour is sold for a delicate morsel.

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