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An Elegy of David, which he sung to Jehovah, on account of Cush the Benjamite.
A prayer of the lord to the father that he would assist against the hells, verses 1, 2, 6-9, 10, 11, 17; because he is just and there is no evil in him, verses 3, 4, 8, 9, 10; lest the hells should prevail, verse 5; but they will be subdued, verses 12-16.
Verse 2. Lest as a lion they rend my soul, tearing it in pieces, and there be none to deliver. By tearing in pieces is signified destruction by evils and falsities; the ground of which signification is because in the spiritual world there is no other tearing in pieces but that of good by evils and falsities. The case herein is like that of death and what relates to death, which in the spiritual sense do not signify natural death, but spiritual death, which is damnation; for there is no other death in the spiritual world: in like manner, tearing in pieces, in the spiritual sense, does not mean such tearing in pieces as is effected by wild beasts, but the tearing in pieces of good by evils and falsities. The wild beasts also, which tear in pieces, in the spiritual sense, signify the evils of lusts, and the falsities thence derived; which, likewise, in the other life, are represented by wild beasts. The good, which continually flows in with man from the Lord, never perishes except by evils and the falsities thence derived, for as soon as that good comes through the internal man to the external or natural man, it is met by what is evil and false, and is thus torn in pieces, as by wild beasts, in various ways, and is extinguished. Hence the influx of good through the internal man is hindered and checked; consequently, the interior mind through which it flows is closed, and only such a measure of what is spiritual is admitted through it, as may enable the natural man to reason and speak; which in such case he does only from earthly, corporeal, and worldly principles, and thus, in fact, in opposition to what is good and true, or only pretendedly or deceitfully in agreement with them. As what is torn in pieces, in the spiritual sense, signified what has been destroyed by falsities and evils, therefore it was forbidden, in the representative church, to eat anything torn in pieces; which prohibition would not have been enjoined, had not that spiritual evil been meant in heaven. The tearing in pieces of what is good by falsities and evils is also meant, in the internal sense, in the following passages in David: "The wicked are like a lion that desires to tear in pieces, and as a young lion that lurks in secret places;" (Psalm 17:12) again, "They opened their mouths against me, as a lion tearing in pieces and roaring;" (Psalm 22:13) and again, "Lest as a lion they rend my soul, tearing it in pieces, and there be none to deliver, (Psalm 7:2) where a lion denotes those who devastate the church. AC 5828
Verse 9. You who tries the hearts and reins are a just God. By trying the hearts and reins is signified that the lord alone knows and explores exterior and interior principles, also the things which are of faith and of love. this is manifest from the signification of trying when applied to the lord, 'as denoting that he alone knows and explores; and from the signification of the reins, as denoting the truths of faith and their purification from falsities; and from the signification of the heart, as denoting the good of love. The just are those who love to do what is true and good; the truths and goods of these are purified by the lord, which is meant by his seeing and trying the reins of the heart. AE 167.
Verse 10. My shield is with god, who saves the upright in heart. See Psalm 3:3, Exposition.
Verses 11, 12, 13. god is a just judge, and god is indignant every day. If the wicked turn not, he sharpens his sword, he bends his bow, and makes it ready; and he prepares for him the instruments of death; he makes him burning arrows. It is here attributed to god, that he is angry with the wicked, that he sharpens his sword, that he bends and makes ready his bow, that he prepares the instruments of death, and makes his darts burning, but in the spiritual sense it is understood, that man does this to himself: those things are attributed to god in the sense of the letter, because that sense is natural, and for the natural man, who believes that god is to be feared on account thereof; and fear with him operates the same as love does afterwards, when he becomes spiritual; hence, it is evident what is here signified by those words, namely, that the wicked is angry with god, that he sharpens the sword against himself, and bends and makes ready his bow, that he prepares for himself the instruments of death, and makes his arrows burning. By his sharpening the sword, is meant that he procures to himself the falsity by which he combats against truth; by his bending the bow and making it ready, is signified that from falsities he makes for himself doctrine against truths; and by his preparing the instruments of death, and making his arrows burning, is signified that from infernal love he makes for himself principles of falsity, by which he destroys good and its truths. AE 357.
Verse 1. O jehovah, my God, in you have I trusted, etc. - It is remarkable that the divine being, both in the book of Psalms, and in other parts of the Sacred Scriptures, is frequently invoked under a variety of names; being sometimes called jehovah, sometimes god, sometimes shaddai, sometimes adonai, sometimes jehovah god, and sometimes jehovah adonai, and lastly, jesus christ. In the verse under consideration, he is addressed by the Psalmist under the combined names of jehovah god. But what enlightened eye cannot discern, that there must be a divine meaning in this combination, and that this meaning cannot be discovered until it be seen, and seen clearly, that all names of persons and of things, when applied in the Sacred Scriptures or word of god, are expressive of qualities, and when predicated of the divine being himself, are expressive of the distinct divine qualities which constitute the peculiar character of that being! But what shall we say are these distinct divine qualities, or rather, what can they be, but that divine goodness and truth, or that divine love and divine wisdom, which we see stamped on all the works of that Being, and especially on ourselves? For how manifest is it that goodness, or love, forms the very essence of those works, as truth, or wisdom, forms their very existence. How manifest again is it that in ourselves, that is to say, in the combination of will and understanding which makes ourselves, we further discover the traces of the above qualities, the will being created for the reception of the divine good, or love, as the understanding being created for the reception of the divine truth or wisdom! The conclusion then is sure, namely that the divine being is called jehovah from his divine goodness or love, and god from his divine truth or wisdom, which is another proof of that divine marriage which characterises every part of the Volume of Revelation,
Verse 9. You who tries the hearts and reins are a just god - What can be the meaning of these words, but that god, or the lord, tries or proves the affections and thoughts of mankind? For the heart, as every one knows, is a bodily organ, figurative, and thus expressive, of man's love-affections, as the reins or kidneys are bodily organs, figurative, and thus expressive, of his intellectual thoughts; on which account the two organs are so frequently joined together in the word of god, as the subjects of divine trial or proof. [See Psalm 26:2; Jer 11:20; 17:10; 20:12.] The ground and origin of this figurative character in regard to the reins or kidneys is probably this; that, according to the testimony of the best anatomists, this organ is instrumental in purifying the blood from urinous impurities, and is thus representative of that organ of truth, by which the human mind is purified from false persuasions. Here then we see another instance of reference to that marriage of the two divine principles, the good and the true, which pervades the whole testimony of divine Revelation, and which thus has a blessed tendency to convince every well-disposed mind, that the Sacred Volume is written according to a law peculiar to itself, which law marks the divinity of its origin, and proves most satisfactorily the complete distinction of the bible from all other books.
Verse 15. He digs a pit and hollows it out. In the Bible version of this passage it is thus rendered, He made a pit, and dug it, according to which rendering no mention is made of hollowing out, when yet in the original Hebrew the passage literally means He dug a pit and hollowed it out. A similar error occurs in the translation of the Gospel according to Luke 6:48, where our blessed lord thus describes the true Christian: He is like a man which built a house and dug deep, when yet in the original Greek the passage literally means. He is like a man building a house, who dug and deepened. It is of importance that the two terms, digging and hollowing out, or deepening, should be thus seen as expressing a distinct meaning, the former term having relation to the first adoption of an opinion, whether it be false or true, whilst the latter term has relation to the confirmation of that opinion by future reasonings and conclusions.
Verse 16. His mischief shall return upon his own head, and upon his own crown shall his violence descend. These words have manifest relation to the internals, who are described in the preceding verse as conceiving iniquity, and being big with mischief, and bringing forth a lie, and thus as endeavouring to deceive and to destroy man by depriving him of all good and truth. But what shall we say is to be understood by the mischief here spoken of, and what by the violence, and how are we to distinguish between the one and the other? Why also is the mischief said to return upon his own head, and the violence to descend on his own crown? It is impossible to give any satisfactory answer to these questions, unless it be well considered, that the two expressions, mischief and violence, have relation to the two opposites to what is true and good, that is to say, have relation to what is evil and what is false, and that by this very opposition they point at the heavenly marriage, to which they are Opposed. Mischief, therefore, is said to return upon his head, and violence to descend upon the crown, because if infernal operation be rejected by a faithful obedience to what is true and good, the operation, in such case, falls back on the infernal operator, returning on his head, and descending on his crown, by causing an aggravation of the distinct principles, and the distinct punishment, of what is false and evil in himself.