Title. “Shiggaion of David, which he sang unto the Lord, concerning the word of Cush the Benjamite.”—”Shiggaion of David.” As far as we can gather from the observations of learned men, and from a comparison of this Psalm with the only other Shiggaion in the Word of God, (Habakkuk 3:1), this title seems to mean “variable songs,” with which also the idea of solace and pleasure is associated. Truly our life-psalm is composed of variable verses; one stanza rolls along with the sublime metre of triumph, but another limps with the broken rhythm of complaint. There is much bass in the saint’s music here below. Our experience is as variable as the weather in England.
From the title we learn the occasion of the composition of this song. It appears probable that Cush the Benjamite had accused David to Saul of treasonable conspiracy against his royal authority. This the king would be ready enough to credit, both from his jealousy of David, and from the relation which most probably existed between himself, the son of Kish, and this Cush, or Kish, the Benjamite. He who is near the throne can do more injury to a subject than an ordinary slanderer.
The rod which he lifted on high, has smitten his own back. He shot an arrow upward, and it has returned upon his own head. He hurled a stone at another and it has come down upon his own pate. Curses are like young chickens, they always come home to roost. Ashes always fly back in the face of him that throws them. “As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him.” (Psalms 109:17.) How often has this been the case in the histories of both ancient and modern times. Men have burned their own fingers when they were hoping to brand their neighbour. And if this does not happen now, it will hereafter. The Lord has caused dogs to lick the blood of Ahab in the midst of the vineyard of Naboth. Sooner or later the evil deeds of persecutors have always leaped back into their arms. So it will be in the last great day, when Satan’s fiery darts shall all be quivered in his own heart, and all his followers shall reap the harvest which they themselves have sown.
That most witty of commentators, Old Master Trapp, tells the following notable anecdote, in illustration of this verse:—That was a very remarkable instance of Dr. Story, who, escaping out of prison in Queen Elizabeth’s days, got to Antwerp, and there thinking himself out of the reach of God’s rod, he got commission under the Duke of Alva to search all ships coming thither for English books. But one Parker, an English merchant, trading for Antwerp, laid his snare fair (saith our chronicler), to catch this foul bird, causing secret notice to be given to Story, that in his ship were stores of heretical books, with other intelligence that might stand him in stead. The Canonist conceiving that all was quite sure, hasted to the ship, where, with looks very big upon the poor mariners, each cabin, chest, and corner above-board were searched, and some things found to draw him further on: so that the hatches must be opened, which seemed to be unwillingly done, and great signs of fear were showed by their faces. This drew on the Doctor to descend into the hold, where now in the trap the mouse might well gnaw, but could not get out, for the hatches were down, and the sails hoisted up, which, with a merry gale, were blown into England, where ere long he was arraigned, and condemned of high treason, and accordingly executed at Tyburn, as he had well deserven.
The story of Phalaris’s bull, invented for the torment of others, and serving afterwards for himself, is notorious in heathen story… It was a voluntary judgment which Archbishop Cranmer inflicted on himself when he thrust that very hand into the fire, and burnt it, with which he had signed to the popish articles, crying out, “Oh, my unworthy right hand!” but who will deny that the hand of the Almighty was also concerned in it? William Turner in “Divine Judgments by way of Retaliation”, 1697.
Ver. 14-16. Illustrate by three figures the devices and defeat of persecutors.
The Treasury of David.
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