Verse 15. But in mine adversity they rejoiced. In my halting they were delighted. My lameness was sport to them. Danger was near, and they sang songs over my expected defeat. How glad are the wicked to see a good man limp! "Now," say they, "he will meet with his downfall." And gathered themselves together, like kites and vultures around a dying sheep. They found a common joy in my ruin, and a recreation in my sorrow, and therefore met together to keep the feast. They laid their heads together to devise, and their tongues to deceive. Yea, the abjects gathered themselves together against me. Those who deserved horsewhipping, fellows the soles of whose feet were needing the bastinado, came together to plot, and held hole and corner meetings. Like curs around a sick lion, the mean wretches taunted and insulted one whose name had been their terror. The very cripples hobbled out to join the malicious crew. How unanimous are the powers of evil; how heartily do men serve the devil; and none decline his service because they are not endowed with great abilities! I knew it not. It was all done behind my back. What a fluster the world may be in, and the cause of it all may not even know that he has given offence. They did tear me, and ceased not. It is such dainty work to tear to pieces a good man's character, that when slanderers have their hand in they are loath to leave off. A pack of dogs tearing their prey is nothing compared with a set of malicious gossips mauling the reputation of a worthy man. That lovers of the gospel are not at this time rent and torn as in the old days of Mary, is to be attributed to the providence of God rather than to the gentleness of men.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 15. But in mine adversity they rejoiced. etc. Do not glory in your neighbour's ruins. The firefly leaps and dances in the fire, and so do many wicked men rejoice in the sufferings of others. Such as rejoice in the sufferings of others are sick of the devil's disease; but from that disease the Lord deliver all your souls. It is sad to insult over those whom God hath humbled; it is high wickedness to triumph over those to whom God hath given a cup of astonishment to drink. Such as make the desolations of their neighbours to be the matter either of their secret repast, or open exultation, such may fear that the very dregs of divine wrath are reserved for them. It is bad playing upon the harp because others have been put to hang their harps upon the willows. We must not pray with him in the tragedy, that it may rain calamities; nor with Clemens' Gnostic, Give me calamities that I may glory in them. There cannot be a greater evidence of a wicked heart, than for a man to be merry because others are in misery. "He that is glad at calamities (that is, at the calamities of others) shall not be unpunished" Proverbs 17:5 . If God be God, such as congratulate our miseries instead of condoling them, shall be sure to be punished with the worst of punishments; for such do not only sin against the law of grace, but also against the very law of nature; the law of nature teaching men to sympathise with those that are in misery, and not to rejoice over them because of their miseries. O sirs, do not make other's mourning your music, do not make other's tears your wine; as you would not be made drunk at last with the wine of astonishment. Thomas Brooks.
Verse 15. But in mine adversity they rejoiced, etc. Marvellous prophecy of the cross! second only, if indeed second, to that in the twenty-second Psalm. Still closer to the history if we take the Vulgate: the scourges were gathered together upon me. Even so, O Lord Jesus, the ploughers ploughed upon thy back, and made long furrows: precious furrows for us, where are sown patience for the present life, and glory in the next; where are sown hope that maketh not ashamed, and love that many waters cannot quench. "The very abjects." Even those worst of abjects, who said, "God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are;" who had set the poor sinner before the Lord, with their "Moses in the law commanded that such should be stoned." "Making mouths at me." And is it not wonderful that, well knowing the prophecy, yet the chief priests and scribes should have so fulfilled it, as that it should be written concerning them, "They that passed by mocked him, wagging their heads." Lewis de Grenada, 1504-1588.
Verse 15. In mine adversity they rejoiced. Now, as men often relent at seeing the misfortunes of their enemies, so that they cease to hate or persecute those who are already miserably wretched, it was an evidence of the very cruel and fierce spirit by which David's former friends were actuated against him, when, upon seeing him cast down and afflicted, they were rather by this incited furiously and insolently to assail him. John Calvin.
Verse 15. The abjects. The very abjects (Prayer Book Version). The Hebrew word Nechim, thus translated, comes from a verb signifying to be smitten. Hence, in the Septuagint it is rendered scourges. But it may also be rendered, with Jerome, smiters, and may mean smiting with the tongue. Compare Jeremiah 18:18 . Another of its meanings is, according to Buxtorf, the wry legged, the lame; and so it is used in 2 Samuel 4:4 9:3 whence the epithet of Necho was given to one of the Pharaohs who halted in his gait. Our translators seem to have understood the word in this last sense, as a term of contempt. Daniel Cresswell.
Verse 15. David, having showed how compassionate he was to his enemies in their affliction Psalms 35:14 , he presently shows Psalms 35:15 , how uncompassionate, or barbarously cruel rather, his enemies were to him in his. Abjects are vile persons, men smitten in their estates and credits; yea, often as slaves or ill servants smitten with cudgels or whips. So a learned translator renders the Psalm, The smitten gathered against me; that is, vile men who deserve to be beaten and cudgelled. Joseph Caryl.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 15. The shameful conspiracy of men against our Lord Jesus at his passion.