Verse 8. So they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves. Their slander shall recoil. Their curses shall come home to roost. Their tongue shall cut their throats. It was both sword, and bow and arrow; it shall be turned against them, and bring home to them full punishment.
All that see them shall flee away. Afraid, both of them and their overthrow, their former friends shall give them wide space, lest they perish with them. Who cares to go near to Herod when the worms are eating him? or to be in the same chariot with Pharaoh when the waves roar round him? Those who crowded around a powerful persecutor, and cringed at his feet, are among the first to desert him in the day of wrath. Woe unto you, ye liars! "Who will desire fellowship with you in your seething lake of fire?"
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 8. (first clause).
In these cases,
We still have judgment here, that we but teach
Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return
To plague the inventor: This even handed justice
Commends the ingredients of our poisoned chalice
To our own lips. William Shakespeare.
Verse 8. Their own tongue to fall upon themselves. That is, their own words shall be brought as a testimony against them, and condemn them. "The tongue is a little member" ( James 3:5 ), and therefore a light member; yet it falls heavy, as heavy as lead. A man were better have his house fall upon him, than that, in this sense, his tongue should fall upon him. Some have been pressed to death because they would not speak, but stood mute before the judge; but more have been pressed to death by their sinful freedom, or rather licentiousness in speaking; this hath brought them to judgment, and cast them in judgment... A strange thing, that the fall of a man's tongue should oppress his body and whole estate; yet so it is, the weight of a man's tongue falling upon him crushes him to powder. Joseph Caryl.
Verse 8. Their own tongue to fall upon themselves. The arrows of idle words, though shot out of sight, and possibly quite forgotten, will hereafter drop down upon the heads of such as drew the bow. Words are but wind, is the common saying, but they are such wind as will either blow the soul to its haven of rest, if holy, wholesome, savoury, spiritual, and tending to edification, or else sink it into the Dead Sea and bottomless gulf of eternal misery, if idle, profane, frothy, and unprofitable. Edward Reyner (1600-1670) in "Rules for the Government of the Tongue."
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS