Verse 3. Then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us. They were so eager for our destruction that they would have made only one morsel of us, and have swallowed us up alive and whole in a single instant. The fury of the enemies of the church is raised to the highest pitch, nothing will content them but the total annihilation of God's chosen. Their wrath is like a fire which is kindled, and has taken such firm hold upon the fuel that there is no quenching it. Anger is never more fiery than when the people of God are its objects. Sparks become flames, and the furnace is heated seven times hotter when God's elect are to be thrust into the blaze. The cruel world would make a full end of the godly seed were it not that Jehovah bars the way. When the Lord appears, the cruel throats cannot swallow, and the consuming fires cannot destroy. Ah, if it were not Jehovah, if our help came from all the creatures united, there would be no way of escape for us: it is only because the Lord liveth that his people are alive.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 3. -- Then they had swallowed us up quick. The metaphor may be taken from famished wild beasts attacking and devouring men (comp. v. 5); or the reference may be to the case of a man shut up alive in a sepulchre ( Proverbs 1:12 ) and left there to perish, or ( Numbers 16:80 ) swallowed up by an earthquake. -- Daniel Cresswell.
Verse 3.-- Then they had swallowed us up. The word implies eating with insatiable appetite; every man that eateth must also swallow; but a glutton is rather a swallower than an eater. He throws his meat whole down his throat, and eats (as we may say) without chewing. The rod of Moses, turned into a serpent, "swallowed up" the rods of the Egyptian sorcerers. The word is often applied to express oppression ( Psalms 35:25 ): "Let them not say in their hearts, Ah, so would we have it: let them not say, We have swallowed him up": that is, we have made clear riddance of him; he is now a gone man for ever. The ravenous rage of the adversary is described in this language. --Joseph Caryl.
Verse 3. -- Quick. Not an adverb, "quickly," but an adjective, alive. As greedy monsters, both of the land and of the deep, sometimes swallow their food before the life is out of it, so would the enemies of the Church have destroyed her as in a moment, but for divine interposition. --William S. Plumer.
Verse 3. -- Objection. But what may the reason thereof be? May a man say, that thus the godly shall always prevail and be never overthrown by their enemies, but overcome them rather? Experience doth teach us that they are fewer in number than the wicked are, that they are weaker for power and strength, that they are more simple for wit and policy, and that they are more careless for, diligence and watchfulness than their adversaries be: how, then, comes it to pass that they have the upper hand?
Answer. The Prophet Ezra doth declare it unto us in the 8th chapter of his prophecy, and the 10th verse thereof, it is in few words "because the Lord is with them and for them."
For, first, he is stronger than all, being able to resist all power that is devised against him and his, and to do whatsoever he will both in heaven and earth.
- He is wiser than all, knowing how to prevent them in all their ways, and also how to bring matters to pass for the good of his people.
- He is more diligent than all, to stand, as it were, upon the watch, and to take his advantage when it is offered him, for "He that keepeth Israel doth neither slumber nor sleep."
- Lastly, he is happier then all to have good success in all his enterprises, for he doth prosper still in all things which he doth take in hand and none can resist a thought of his; yea, the very "word which goeth out of his mouth doth accomplish that which he wills, and prosper in the thing where unto he doth send it." In war, all these four things are respected in a captain that will still overcome: first, that he be strong; secondly, that he be wise; thirdly, that he be diligent; and, lastly, that he be fortunate; for the victory goeth not always with the strong, nor always with the wise, nor always with the diligent, nor always with the fortunate; but sometimes with the one of them, and sometimes with the other: Out look, where all four do concur together there is always the victory, and therefore seeing all of them are in God, it is no marvel though those whose battles he doth fight, do always overcome and get the victory. --Thomas Stint, 1621.