Verse 4. My soul is among lions. He was a very Daniel. Howled at, hunted, wounded, but not slain. His place was in itself one of extreme peril, and yet faith made him feel himself secure, so that he could lie down. The cave may have reminded him of a lion's den, and Saul and his band shouting and yelling in their disappointment at missing him, were the lions; yet beneath the divine shelter he finds himself safe.
And I lie even among them that are set on fire. Perhaps Saul and his band kindled a fire in the cavern while they halted in it, and David was thus reminded of the fiercer fire of their hate which burned within their hearts. Like the bush in Horeb, the believer is often in the midst of flames, but never consumed. It is a mighty triumph of faith when we can lie down even among firebrands and find rest, because God is our defence.
Even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword. Malicious men carry a whole armoury in their mouths; they have not harmless mouths, whose teeth grind their own food as in a mill, but their jaws are as mischievous as if every tooth were a javelin or an arrow. They have no molars, all their teeth are canines, and their nature is canine, leonine, wolfish, devilish. As for that busy member the tongue, in the case of the malicious, it is a two edged, keen, cutting, killing sword. The tongue, which is here compared to a sword, has the adjective sharp added to it, which is not used in reference to the teeth, which are compared to spears, as if to show that if men were actually to tear us with their teeth, like wild beasts, they could not thereby wound us so severely as they can do with their tongues. No weapon is so terrible as a tongue sharpened on the devil's grindstone; yet even this we need not fear, for "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue that riseth against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn."
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 4. My soul is among lions. This may also be construed of the church, and that both in respect of her spiritual enemies and temporal. As for her ghostly foes, the devil is a roaring lion ( 1 Peter 5:8 ), and our sins are the whelps of lions, ready to devour us. And concerning outward enemies, the church in this world is like Daniel in the lion's den, or as "the sucking child playing upon the hole of the asp." Isaiah 11:8 . She hath here no visible power or outward help to fly to for succour, all her trust is in the Lord, and "under the shadow of his wings is her refuge, till this evil is overpast."... And surely, beloved, if the church had not any other enemies, but only these monstrous Antichrists of Rome, yet she might truly complain with our prophet here, My soul is among lions. Eleven popes had that name, whereof all, excepting two or three, were roaring lions in their Bulls, and ravening lions in seeking after their prey. Leo the tenth so pilled (Pill -- peel, to pillage, plunder, strip) and polled (Poll, used synonymously with peel) the goodly nations of Germany with his unpardonable pardons and merciless indulgences, as that his insupportable cruelty gave the first occasion of the Reformation of religion in that country. John Boys.
Verse 4. (first clause). Mudge translates literally, I lie with my soul amidst lionesses. This agrees with the opinion of Bochart, who thinks that the animals here intended are lionesses, properly, when giving suck to their young, a time when they are peculiarly fierce and dangerous, "nor need we wonder," he observes, "that the lioness is reckoned among the fiercest lions; for the lioness equals, or even exceeds, the lion in strength and fierceness;" and this he proves from the testimonies of ancient writers. James Anderson's Note to Calvin in loc, 1846.
Verse 4. And I lie even among them that are set on fire. The whole pith lies in the word hbkfa, I will recline, which denotes a tranquil and secure condition of body and mind, like a man reclining and sleeping, as Psalms 3:5 ; I laid me down and slept, I awaked; and lived composedly; Psalms 4:9 ; I will both lay me down in peace, etc. Hermann Venema.
Verse 4. The horrors of a lion's den, the burning of a fiery furnace, and the cruel onset of war, are the striking images by which David here describes the peril and wretchedness of his present condition. John Morison.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 1,4,6-7. Note the varying condition of the same heart, at the same time. My soul trusteth in thee... My soul is among lions... My soul is bowed down... My heart is fixed.
Verse 4. My soul is among lions. How came I there? If for God's sake, then I may remember --
- So was my Lord in the wilderness.
- The lions are chained.
- Their howling is all they can do.
- I shall come out of their den alive, unhurt, honoured.
- The Lion of Judah is with me.
- I shall soon be among the angels.