Verse 11. "So that a man shall say " - That is, people, seeing these just judgments of God, shall say, There is a reward ( yrp peri, fruit) to the righteous man. He has not sown his seed in vain; he has not planted and watered in vain: he has the fruit of his labours, he eats the fruit of his doings. But wo to the wicked, it is ill with him; for the reward of his hands has been given him.
"He is a God that judgeth in the earth " - There is a God who does not entirely defer judgment till the judgment-day; but executes judgment now, even in this earth; and thus continues to give such a proof of his hatred to sin and love to his followers that every considerate mind is convinced of it.
And hence arise the indisputable maxims: "There is, even here, a reward for the righteous;"There is a God who, even now, judgeth in the earth." I have seen Indian priests who professed to charm, not only serpents, but the most ferocious wild beasts; even the enraged elephant, and the royal tiger! Two priests of Budhoo, educated under my own care, repeated the Sanscrit incantations to me, and solemnly asserted that they had seen the power of them repeatedly and successfully put to the test. I have mislaid these incantations, else I should insert them as a curiosity; for to charms of the same nature the psalmist most undoubtedly alludes.
The term rbwj chober, which we translate charmer, comes from dbj to join, or put together; i.e., certain unintelligible words or sentences, which formed the spell.
I once met with a man who professed to remove diseases by pronouncing an unintelligible jingling jargon of words oddly tacked together. I met with him one morning proceeding to the cure of a horse affected with the farcin.
With a very grave countenance he stood before the diseased animal, and, taking off his hat, devoutly muttered the following words; which, as a matter of peculiar favour, he afterwards taught me, well knowing that I could never use them successfully, because not taught me by a woman; "for," said he, "to use them with success, a man must be taught them by a woman, and a woman by a man." What the genuine orthography may be I cannot pretend to say, as I am entirely ignorant of the language, if the words belong to any language: but the following words exactly express his sounds: - Murry fin a liff cree Murry fin a liss cree Ard fin deriv dhoo Murry fin firey fu Murry fin elph yew.
When he had repeated these words nine times, he put on his hat and walked off, but he was to return the next morning, and so on for nine mornings successively, always before he had broken his fast. The mother of the above person, a very old woman, and by many reputed a witch, professed to do miracles by pronouncing, or rather muttering, certain words or sounds, and by measuring with a cord the diseased parts of the sick person. I saw her practice twice: 1st, on a person afflicted with a violent headache, or rather the effects of a coup de soleil; and, 2ndly, on one who had got a dangerous mote or splinter in his eye. In the first case she began to measure the head, round the temples, marking the length; then from the vertex, under the chin, and so up to the vertex again, marking that length. Then, by observing the dimensions, passed judgment on the want of proportion in the two admeasurements, and said the brain was compressed by the sinking down of the skull. She then began her incantations, muttering under her breath a supplication to certain divine and angelic beings, to come and lift up the bones, that they might no longer compress the brain. She then repeated her admeasurements, and showed how much was gained towards a restoration of the proportions from the spell already muttered. The spell was again muttered, the measurements repeated, and at each time a comparison of the first measurement was made with the succeeding, till at last she said she had the due proportions; that the disease, or rather the cause of it, was removed; and that the operations were no longer necessary.
In the case of the diseased eye, her manner was different. She took a cup of clean pure water, and washed her mouth well. Having done so, she filled her mouth with the same water, and walked to and fro in the apartment (the patient sitting in the midst of the floor) muttering her spell, of which nothing could be heard but a grumbling noise. She then emptied her mouth into a clean white bason, and showed the motes which had been conveyed out of the patient's eye into the water in her mouth, while engaged in muttering the incantation! She proffered to teach me her wonder-working words; but the sounds were so very uncouth, if not barbarous, that I know no combination of letters by which I could convey the pronunciation.
"Ridiculous as all this may appear, it shows that this incantation work is conducted in the present day, both in Asia and Europe, where it is professed, in precisely the same manner in which it was conducted formerly, by pronouncing, or rather muttering certain words or sounds, to which they attach supernatural power and efficiency. And from this came the term spell: Anglo-Saxon [A.S." - , a word, a charm, composed of such supposed powerful words; and [A.S.] wyrkan spell signified among our ancestors to use enchantments.
ANALYSIS OF THE FIFTY-EIGHTH PSALM
David deprecates the danger that hung over his head from Saul and his council.
The Psalms is divided into three parts: - I. A sharp invective, or reprehension of his enemies, ver. 1.
II. An imprecation, or denunciation of God's judgment on them, ver. 6-9.
III. The benefits that from thence redound to the righteous, ver. 10, 11.
I. 1. David begins with an apostrophe, and figures it with an erotesis, which makes his reproof the sharper. 1. "O congregation;" O ye counsel of Saul. 2. "Do you indeed speak righteously?" 3. "Do ye judge uprightly, O ye sons of men?" By which he intimates that indeed they do neither.
2. Which in the next verse he affirms in plain terms, and brings home to their charge: "Yea in heart you work wickedness; you weigh the violence of your hands in the earth;" heart and hand are bent to do evil, which the words, well considered, do exaggerate. 1. They were iniquities, a plurality of them. 2. It was their work. 3. Their hearty work. 4. Their handy work. 5. Weighed out by their scale of justice.
6. Which, indeed, under the colour of justice, was but violence. 7. And it was in this earth-in Israel, where no such thing was to be done.
3. This, their wickedness, he amplifies, both from their origin and progress: - 1. The root of it was very old; brought into the world with them:
1. "The wicked are estranged from the womb:" from God and all goodness. 2. "They go astray:" from their cradle they take the wrong way. 3. "As soon as they be born, speaking lies:" from their birth inclined to falsehood.
2. And in this their falsehood they are malicious and obstinate. 1.
Malicious. The poison of their tongue is like the poison of a serpent, innate, deadly. 2. Obstinate. For they will not be reclaimed by any counsel or admonition: They are like the deaf adder that stoppeth her ear, which refuseth to hear the voice of the charmer, "charm he never so wisely." II. Their wickedness, malice, and obstinacy, being so great, he now prays against and devotes them to God's judgment. He prays, in general, for their ruin, esteeming them no better than lions. Saul, the old lion; and his council, lions' whelps.
1. To God he turns his speech; and prays against their means to hurt, whether near or afar off.
2. And thence, against their persons: "O God, break their teeth in their mouth; break out the great teeth of the lions." O Lord, remove their strength; their nearest instruments to hurt, to destroy: "O God, when they purpose to harm us, let it be in vain; when he bends his bow to shoot his arrows, let them be as cut in pieces." Thus let it fall to their arms: but as for their persons: - 1. "Let them melt away as waters." Great brooks, that run with great force from the mountains, and overrun for a little while the valleys; but run quickly into the channels, and thence to the sea, and are swallowed up.
2. Let them be as a snail that melts in her passage, and leaves a slimy track behind, which yet quickly passeth away. So let them be like a snail, which, when its shell is taken off, grows cold and dies.
3. Let them be "like the untimely fruit of a woman, that they may not see the sun." 4. "Before your pots can feel the thorns" - ere they do mischief, "He shall take them away as with a whirlwind, both living and in his wrath." III. The benefits which, from his judgment upon the wicked, shall flow to the righteous.
1. Joyfulness: "The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance." 2. Amendment. Being warned thus, "He shall wash his footsteps in their blood." Their slaughter shall be great; and he shall be near it, yet unhurt.
3. Confirmation of their faith, and giving glory to God: "So that a man shall say, Verily, there is a reward for the righteous: doubtless; there is a God that judgeth in the earth."