Psalm 56:5
Every day they wrest my words: all their thoughts are against me for evil.
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(5) Wrest.—Properly, afflict; and so some, “injure my cause.” But “torture my words” is intelligible.

Psalm 56:5-6. They wrest my words — They misconstrue and pervert my most innocent expressions, and turn them into matter of calumny, in order that they may incense Saul against me. Hebrew, יעצבו, jegnatzeebu, they put upon the rack my words, to extort that out of them which was never in them. Or, they endeavour to squeeze from my words, as it were by torture, any sense they please, contrary to the intention of the speaker. All their thoughts, &c. — It is their whole study to do me mischief. They gather themselves together, &c. — After they have separately employed their thoughts against me, they meet together to hold consultations, and compare their schemes, and put them in execution. They hide themselves — They lurk secretly; either, that they may pry into all my most private actions; or, that they may surprise me with mischief unawares. They mark my steps — All my ways and actions, that they may find some occasion to reproach or entangle, and so destroy me; when they wait for my soul — Or life, namely, to take it away. 56:1-7 Be merciful unto me, O God. This petition includes all the good for which we come to throne of grace. If we obtain mercy there, we need no more to make us happy. It implies likewise our best plea, not our merit, but God's mercy, his free, rich mercy. We may flee to, and trust the mercy of God, when surrounded on all sides by difficulties and dangers. His enemies were too hard for him, if God did not help him. He resolves to make God's promises the matter of his praises, and so we have reason to make them. As we must not trust an arm of flesh when engaged for us, so we must not be afraid of an arm of flesh when stretched out against us. The sin of sinners will never be their security. Who knows the power of God's anger; how high it can reach, how forcibly it can strike?Every day they wrest my words - The word here rendered "wrest," means literally to give pain, to grieve, to afflict; and it is used here in the sense of "wresting," as if force were applied to words; that is, they are "tortured," twisted, perverted. We have the same use of the word "torture" in our language. This they did by affixing a meaning to his words which he never intended, so as to injure him.

All their thoughts are against me for evil - All their plans, devices, purposes. They never seek my good, but always seek to do me harm.

5, 6. A vivid picture of the conduct of malicious enemies.5 Every day they wrest my words: all their thoughts are against me for evil.

6 They gather themselves together, they hide themselves, they mark my steps, when they wait for my soul.

Psalm 56:5

"Every day they wrest my words." This is a common mode of warfare among the ungodly. They put our language on the rack, they extort meanings from it which it cannot be made fairly to contain. Thus our Saviour's prophecy concerning the temple of his body, and countless accusations against his servants, were founded on wilful perversions. They who do this every day become great adepts in the art. A wolf can always find in a lamb's discourse a reason for eating him. Prayers are blasphemies if you choose to read them the wrong way upwards. "All their thoughts are against me for evil." No mixture of good will tone down their malice. Whether they viewed him as a king, a Psalmist, a man, a father, a warrior, a sufferer, it was all the same, they saw through coloured glass, and could not think a generous thought towards him. Even those actions of his which were an undoubted blessing to the commonwealth, they endeavoured to undervalue. Oh, foul spring, from which never a drop of pure water can come!

Psalm 56:6

"They gather themselves together." Firebrands burn the fiercer for being pushed together. They are afraid to meet the good man till their numbers place terrible odds against him. Come out, ye cowards, man by man, and fight the old hero! No, ye wait till ye are assembled like thieves in bands, and even then ye waylay the man. There is nothing brave about you. "They hide themselves." In ambuscade they wait their opportunity. Men of malice are men of cowardice. He who dares not meet his man on the king's highway, writes himself down a villain. Constantly are the reputations of good men assailed with deep-laid schemes, and diabolical plots, in which the anonymous enemies stab in the dark. "They mark my steps," as hunters mark the trail of their game, and so track them. Malicious men are frequently very sharp-sighted to detect the failings, or supposed failings, of the righteous. Spies and mouchards are not all in the pay of earthly governments, some of them will have wages to take in red-hot coin from one who himself is more subtle than all the beasts of the field. "When they wait for my soul." Nothing less than his life would content them, only his present and eternal ruin could altogether glut them. The good man is no fool, he sees that he has enemies, and that they are many and crafty; he sees also his own danger, and then he shows his wisdom by spreading the whole case before the Lord, and putting himself under divine protection.

They wrest my words; they misconstrue and pervert my most innocent expressions, and turn them into matter of calumny, wherewith they may incense Saul against me. Or, they perplex my affairs. All their thoughts are against me for evil; it is their whole study to do me mischief. Every day they wrest my words,.... Form, fashion, and shape them at their pleasure; construe them, and put what sense upon them they think fit. The word (u) is used of the formation of the human body, in Job 10:8; They put his words upon the rack, and made them speak what he never intended; as some men wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction, 2 Peter 3:16; and as the Jews wrested the words of Christ, John 2:19. The word has also the sense of causing vexation and grief, Isaiah 63:10; and so it may be rendered here, "my words cause grief" (w); to his enemies; because he had said, in the preceding verses, that he would trust in the Lord, and praise his word, and not be afraid of men; just as the Sadducees were grieved at the apostles preaching, through Jesus, the resurrection of the dead, Acts 4:1. Or they caused grief to himself; for because of these his enemies reproached him, cursed him, and distressed him. The Septuagint and Vulgate Latin render it, "they cursed my words"; or despised them, as the Ethiopic and Arabic versions:

all their thoughts are against me for evil; their counsels, schemes, and contrivances, were all formed to do him all the hurt and mischief they could.

(u) "fingunt mea verba", Cocceius, Gusset. p. 628. "They painfully form and frame my words", Ainsworth. (w) "Dolore afficient", Montanus, Gejerus, Vatablus.

Every day they wrest my {d} words: all their thoughts are against me for evil.

(d) All my counsels have evil success, and turn to my own sorrow.

5. From the heights of faith he returns to the urgent reality of present distress. Cp. Psalm 42:6.

Every day] R.V., all the day long.

they wrest my words] Distorting and perverting them. Calumniators endeavoured to poison Saul’s mind against David, 1 Samuel 24:9, cp. Psalm 7:3 ff. But the meaning is somewhat doubtful. It may be, they pervert my affairs, i.e. injure my interests.

all their thoughts &c.] Cp. Psalm 41:7.

5–11. The second division of the Psalm is similar to the first: a description of present distress, and prayer for help, followed by an expression of perfect confidence in God’s protection.Verse 5. - Every day they wrest my words; rather, all the day long. they wrest (or, torture) my words. They seek to give my words an evil meaning, and so to misrepresent me to Achish, their king. As Canon Cook says, "This description is singularly applicable to David's position among the envious nobles at the court of Achish Still, it does not speak of his having been actually arrested, and does not, therefore, seem to have suggested the inscription." All their thoughts are against his for evil. They are entirely bent on doing the psalmist some hurt. What they really seek is his life (ver. 6); but, short of that, they would gladly do him some mischief. In spite of this interruption and the accompanying clashing in of the music. אשׁר .ci with its dependent clause continues the ויאנם, more minutely describing those whom God will answer in His wrath. The relative clause at the same time gives the ground for this their fate from the character they bear: they persevere in their course without any regard to any other in their godlessness. The noun חליפה, which is used elsewhere of a change of clothes, of a reserve in time of war, of a relief of bands of workmen, here signifies a change of mind (Targum), as in Job 14:14 a change of condition; the plural means that every change of this kind is very far from them. In Psalm 55:21 David again has the one faithless foe among the multitude of the rebels before his mind. שׁלמיו is equivalent to שׁלמים אתּו, Genesis 34:21, those who stood in peaceful relationship to him (שׁלום, Psalm 41:10). David classes himself with his faithful adherents. בּרית is here a defensive and offensive treaty of mutual fidelity entered into in the presence of God. By שׁלח and חלּל is meant the intention which, though not carried out as yet, is already in itself a violation and profanation of the solemn compact. In Psalm 55:22 the description passes into the tone of the caesural schema. It is impossible for מחמאת, so far as the vowels are concerned, to be equivalent to מחמאות, since this change of the vowels would obliterate the preposition; but one is forbidden to read מחמאות (Targum, Symmachus, Jerome) by the fact that פּיו (lxx τοῦ προσώπου αὐτοῦ, as in Proverbs 2:6) cannot be the subject to חלקוּ. Consequently מ belongs to the noun itself, and the denominative מחמאות (from חמאה), like מעדנּות (from עדן), dainties, signifies articles of food prepared from curdled milk; here it is used figuratively of "milk-words" or "butter-words" which come from the lips of the hypocrite softly, sweetly, and supplely as cream: os nectar promit, mens aconita vomit. In the following words וּקרב־לבּו (וּקרב) the Makkeph (in connection with which it would have to be read ukerob just the same as in Psalm 55:19, since the - has not a Metheg) is to be crossed out (as in fact it is even wanting here and there in MSS and printed editions). The words are an independent substantival clause: war (קרב, a pushing together, assault, battle, after the form כּתב mrof eh with an unchangeable â) is his inward part and his words are swords; these two clauses correspond. רכּוּ (properly like Arab. rkk, to be thin, weak, then also: to be soft, mild; root רך, רק, tendere, tenuare) has the accent on the ultima, vid., on Psalm 38:20. פּתיחה is a drawn, unsheathed sword (Psalm 37:14).

The exhortation, Psalm 55:23, which begins a new strophe and is thereby less abrupt, is first of all a counsel which David gives to himself, but at the same time to all who suffer innocently, cf. Psalm 27:14. Instead of the obscure ἅπαξ γεγραμ. יהבך, we read in Psalm 37:5 דרכך, and in Proverbs 16:3 מעשׂיך, according to which the word is not a verb after the form ידעך (Chajug', Gecatilia, and Kimchi), but an accusative of the object (just as it is in fact accented; for the Legarme of יהוה has a lesser disjunctive value than the Zinnor of יהבך). The lxx renders it ἐπίῤῥιψον ἐπὶ κύριον τὴν μέριμνάν σου. Thus are these words of the Psalm applied in 1 Peter 5:7. According to the Talmud יהב (the same form as קרב) signifies a burden. "One day," relates Rabba bar-Chana, B. Rosh ha-Shana, 26b, and elsewhere, "I was walking with an Arabian (Nabataean?) tradesman, and happened to be carrying a heavy pack. And he said to me, שׁקיל יהביך ושׁדי אגמלאי, Take thy burden and throw it on my camel." Hence it is wiser to refer יהב to יהב, to give, apportion, than to a stem יהב equals יאב, Psalm 119:131 (root אב, או), to desire; so that it consequently does not mean desiring, longing, care, but that which is imposed, laid upon one, assigned or allotted to one (Bttcher), in which sense the Chaldee derivatives of יהב (Targum Psalm 11:6; Psalm 16:5, for מנת) do actually occur. On whomsoever one casts what is allotted to him to carry, to him one gives it to carry. The admonition proceeds on the principle that God is as willing as He is able to bear even the heaviest burden for us; but this bearing it for us is on the other side our own bearing of it in God's strength, and hence the promise that is added runs: He will sustain thee (כּלכּל), that thou mayest not through feebleness succumb. Psalm 55:23 also favours this figure of a burden: He will not give, i.e., suffer to happen (Psalm 78:66), tottering to the righteous for ever, He will never suffer the righteous to totter. The righteous shall never totter (or be moved) with the overthrow that follows; whereas David is sure of this, that his enemies shall not only fall to the ground, but go down into Hades (which is here, by a combination of two synonyms, בּאר שׁחת, called a well, i.e., an opening, of a sinking in, i.e., a pit, as e.g., in Proverbs 8:31; Ezekiel 36:3), and that before they have halved their days, i.e., before they have reached the half of the age that might be attained under other circumstances (cf. Psalm 102:25; Jeremiah 16:11). By ואתּה אלהים prominence is given to the fact that it is the very same God who will not suffer the righteous to fall who casts down the ungodly; and by ואני David contrasts himself with them, as being of good courage now and in all time to come.

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