5:9 For 1 they do not speak the truth; 2
their stomachs are like the place of destruction, 3
their throats like an open grave, 4
their tongues like a steep slope leading into it. 5
140:3 Their tongues wound like a serpent; 6
a viper’s 7 venom is behind 8 their lips. (Selah)
1 tn Or “certainly.”
2 tn Heb “for there is not in his mouth truthfulness.” The singular pronoun (“his”) probably refers back to the “man of bloodshed and deceit” mentioned in v. 6. The singular is collective or representative, as the plural in the next line indicates, and so has been translated “they.”
3 tn Heb “their inward part[s] [is] destruction.” For a discussion of the extended metaphor in v. 9b, see the note on the word “it” at the end of the verse.
4 tn Heb “their throat is an open grave.” For a discussion of the extended metaphor in v. 9b, see the note on the word “it” at the end of the verse. The metaphor is suggested by the physical resemblance of the human throat to a deeply dug grave; both are dark chasms.
5 tn Heb “they make smooth their tongue.” Flattering, deceitful words are in view. See Ps 12:2. The psalmist’s deceitful enemies are compared to the realm of death/Sheol in v. 9b. Sheol was envisioned as a dark region within the earth, the entrance to which was the grave with its steep slopes (cf. Ps 88:4-6). The enemies’ victims are pictured here as slipping down a steep slope (the enemies’ tongues) and falling into an open grave (their throat) that terminates in destruction in the inner recesses of Sheol (their stomach). The enemies’ קרב (“inward part”) refers here to their thoughts and motives, which are destructive in their intent. The throat is where these destructive thoughts are transformed into words, and their tongue is what they use to speak the deceitful words that lead their innocent victims to their demise.
sn As the psalmist walks down the path in which God leads him, he asks the
6 tn Heb “they sharpen their tongue like a serpent.” Ps 64:3 reads, “they sharpen their tongues like sword.” Perhaps Ps 140:3 uses a mixed metaphor, the point being that “they sharpen their tongues [like a sword],” as it were, so that when they speak, their words wound like a serpent’s bite. Another option is that the language refers to the pointed or forked nature of a serpent’s tongue, which is viewed metaphorically as “sharpened.”
7 tn The Hebrew term is used only here in the OT.
8 tn Heb “under.”