They shall lick the dust like a serpent
Whose food is the dust of the earth, according to the curse pronounced on it, ( Genesis 3:14 ) ; and which is either its, natural food it chooses to live on, as some serpents however are said F15 to do; or, going upon its belly, it cannot but take in a good deal of the dust of the earth along with its food; and hereby is signified the low, mean, abject, and cursed estate and condition of the seed of the serpent, wicked and ungodly men, the enemies of Christ and his people; who wilt be forced to yield subjection to him and his church, and will pretend the most profound respect for them, and the highest veneration of them. The allusion seems to be to the manner of the eastern nations, who, in complimenting their kings and great men, bowed so low to the ground with their faces, as to take up with their mouths the very dust of it. Particularly it is said of the Persians, that they first kiss the pavement on which the king treads, before they speak unto him, as Quistorpius on the place relates; and Valerius Maximus F16 says, that when Darius Hystaspis was declared king by the neighing of his horse, the rest of the six candidates alighted from their horses, and prostrated their bodies to the ground, as is the manner of the Persians, and saluted him king; and Herodotus F17 observes the same, custom among the Persians; and to this custom the poet Martial F18 refers; and Drusius says it is a custom in Asia to this day, that, when any go into the presence of a king, they kiss the ground, which is a token of the great veneration they have for him. The phrase is used of the enemies of the, Messiah, and of the converted Jews and Gentiles at the latter day, and is expressive of their great submission to them; see ( Psalms 72:9 ) ( Isaiah 49:23 ) ; they shall move out of their holes like worms of the earth;
who put out their heads and draw them in again upon the least notice or approach of danger; or like serpents, as Jarchi and Kimchi, which lurk in holes, and creep out of them oft their bellies, or any other creeping things. The word F19 here used signifies a tremulous and tumultuous motion, like the wriggling of a worm out of the earth; or the hurry of ants, when their nests are kicked or thrown up: this is expressive of the confusion and perturbation of the enemies of the Lord and his people; of the Babylonians, who were obliged in a hurry to leave their palaces, as the Targum and Aben Ezra interpret their holes, and their fortresses and towers, and deliver them to the Medes and Persians; and of Gog and Magog, and the antichristian states, who will be obliged to abandon their places of abode, and creep out of sight, and be reduced to the lowest and meanest condition; they shall be afraid of the Lord our God:
because of the glory of his majesty, the greatness of his power, and for fear of his judgments: and shall fear because of thee;
O God, or Israel, as Kimchi; the church of God, whom they despised and reproached before; but now shall be seized with a panic, and live in the utmost dread of, because of the power and glory of God in the midst of them, and lest they should fall a sacrifice to them.
F15 Vid. Bochart. Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 1. c. 44. col. 27.
F16 L. 7. c. 3. sect. 2.
F17 Polymnia, sive l. 7. c. 12.
F18 "Et turpes humilesque, supplicesque, Pictorum sola basiate regum". Epigram. l. 10. Ep. 71.
F19 (wzgry) "contremiscent", Munster, Tigurine version, Cocceius; "frement, sive tumultuabuntur", Calvin; "trepide prorepent", Burkius.