Verse 6. They return at evening. Like wild beasts that roam at night, they come forth to do mischief. If foiled in the light, they seek the more congenial darkness in which to accomplish their designs. They mean to break into the house in the dead of might.
They make a noise like a dog, and go round about the city. Howling with hunger for their prey, they sneak round and round the walls, prowling with stealthy footstep, and barking in unamiable concert. David compares his foes to Eastern dogs, unowned, loathsome, degraded, lean, and hungry, and he represents them as howling with disappointment, because they cannot find the food they seek. Saul's watchmen and the cruel king himself must have raved and raged fiercely when they found the image and the pillow of goat's hair in the bed instead of David. Vain were their watchings, the victim had been delivered, and that by the daughter of the man who desired his blood. Go, ye dogs, to your kennels and gnaw your bones, for this good man is not meat for your jaws.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 6. At evening. The evening expresses the time of calamity and want, and alludes to the wild beasts which are wont in the evening to go forth in quest of prey. Hermann Venema.
Verse 6. They make a noise like a dog. The noise I heard then I shall never forget. To say that if all the sheep dogs in going to Smithfield on a market day, had been kept on the constant bark and pitted against the yelping curs upon all the carts in London, they could have given any idea of the canine uproar that now first astonished me, would be to make the feeblest of images. The whole city rang with one vast riot. Down below me, at Tophane; over about Stamboul; far away at Scutari; the whole sixty thousand dogs that are said to overrun Constantinople, appeared engaged in the most active extermination of each other, without a moment's cessation. The yelping, howling, barking, growling, and snarling, were all merged into one uniform and continuous even sound, as the noise of frogs becomes, when heard at a distance. For hours there was no lull. I went to sleep and woke again, and still, with my windows open, I heard the same tumult going on; nor was it until daybreak that anything like tranquillity was restored. Albert Smith, in "A Month at Constantinople," 1850.
Verse 6. In bringing their secret plans to bear, they are represented as hungry dogs, prowling about the city in the darkness for prey; ranging, each one with his own object, but in one common cause. To take in the full force of this metaphor it must be remembered that in Eastern cities formerly, as at the present day, it was the custom to cast out all the refuse of food -- bones, offal, etc. -- into the streets, which was consumed chiefly by dogs, great numbers of which were kept, as it would seem, for that particular purpose. With this idea in mind, the metaphor has great propriety in its application to Christ's enemies.
"Every evening they return
They howl like dogs,
And surround the city." William Hill Tucker.
Verse 6-7. This is a continued metaphor, which must be well observed, of a famished and rabid dog, unable to satisfy either its hunger or thirst; and describes men, howling formerly like dogs, pursuing, seizing all good things for themselves, and devouring; but now destitute of all things, unable to quench their cupidity, despised, miserable, and desperate wanderers. Such did Saul and his messengers sent against David in Najoth Rama show themselves to be, and give the prelude to their coming misery. Hermann Venema.
- They are diligent about it, They return at evening.
- Mad, and set to do it, They make a noise like a dog, and threaten boldly.
- Unwearied and obdurate in their purpose: They go round about the city.
- Impudent, and brag what they will do to me: Behold, they belch out with their mouth.
- And their words are bloody: Swords are in their lips. Adam Clarke.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS