Psalm 38:12

ESV Those who seek my life lay their snares; those who seek my hurt speak of ruin and meditate treachery all day long.
NIV Those who want to kill me set their traps, those who would harm me talk of my ruin; all day long they scheme and lie.
NASB Those who seek my life lay snares for me; And those who seek to injure me have threatened destruction, And they plot deception all day long.
CSB Those who intend to kill me set traps, and those who want to harm me threaten to destroy me; they plot treachery all day long.
NLT Meanwhile, my enemies lay traps to kill me. Those who wish me harm make plans to ruin me. All day long they plan their treachery.
KJV They also that seek after my life lay snares for me: and they that seek my hurt speak mischievous things, and imagine deceits all the day long.
NKJV Those also who seek my life lay snares for me; Those who seek my hurt speak of destruction, And plan deception all the day long.

What does Psalm 38:12 mean?

As a warrior and king, David's enemies were always looking for weaknesses which they could exploit. Psalm 38 describes David's suffering as God rebukes him for sin (Psalm 38:1–4). This part of Scripture does not specify what inspired David's plea. However, it might have been his sin regarding Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12:7–9). In that instance, he abused his kingly authority attempting to cover up adultery. Even in the ancient world, where kings wielded almost unlimited power, such things would threaten the loyalty and love of the people (2 Samuel 15:6). Whatever the cause, David's sin seems to have given his enemies a renewed motivation and intensity in their plotting.

A "snare" was a trap usually placed on a path or hidden in the ground. When an animal stepped on the snare, it would snap shut and entangle the animal. In the context of David's enemies, this would mean their subversive plans to catch him and kill him. Those who wanted to destroy him spent ample time discussing his doom and going over their plans. Likely, David overheard his enemies discussing ways to destroy him, or heard reports from his spies and soldiers about it.

As he hears about enemies plotting to destroy him, David's experience foreshadows what happened to Jesus, his chief descendant. After Jesus healed a man with a withered hand, the Pharisees left the synagogue where the healing took place "and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him" (Mark 3:6). Evil never stops scheming to interfere with goodness.
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