Psalm - 31:12

12 I am forgotten from their hearts like a dead man. I am like broken pottery.

Verse In-Depth

Explanation and meaning of Psalm 31:12.

Differing Translations

Compare verses for better understanding.
I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel.
I am forgotten as one dead from the heart. I am become as a vessel that is destroyed.
I am forgotten in their heart as a dead man; I am become like a broken vessel.
I have been forgotten as dead out of mind, I have been as a perishing vessel.
I have gone from men's minds and memory like a dead man; I am like a broken vessel.
Because of all mine adversaries I am become a reproach, Yea, unto my neighbours exceedingly, and a dread to mine acquaintance; They that see me without flee from me.

*Minor differences ignored. Grouped by changes, with first version listed as example.

Historical Commentaries

Scholarly Analysis and Interpretation.

I am forgotten as one dead. The Psalmist still pursues the same idea, and complains that he was as completely blotted out of all men's remembrance as if he had been dead. The memory of some men after their death flourishes for a time among survivors, but it more frequently vanishes; for there is no longer any intercourse between the quick and the dead, nor can the living be of any farther service to the dead. David illustrates this idea by the metaphor of a broken vessel, [1] which denotes utter contempt and meanness; as if he had said, that he was accounted no longer worthy of any place or respect. He adds, in fine, that he was railed upon by the multitude, and agitated with terrors. I would, however, prefer translating the Hebrew word rvym, rabbim, by the great, [2] rather than by many. When great men, who are often as powerful in judgment as in authority, slander and defame us as wicked persons, this adds to the indignity with which we are treated, because, whatever they say in condemnation of us has the effect of prejudicing the common people against us. It will therefore be very suitable to understand the words as meaning that David was ignominiously condemned by the whole order of the nobility; and thus the innocence of this afflicted man was thrown into the shade by their greatness. This interpretation is confirmed by what immediately follows:-- Fear encloseth me on every side, [3] while they consult together against me. As he is still speaking of the same persons, it is certain that this language applies more appropriately to the nobles than to the common people. Moreover, we see that the primary object of the wicked in the deceitful counsels by which they conspired to destroy David, was to create among the whole people hatred against him as a wicked and reprobate man. We also see that while they mangled his reputation, they did it in such a manner as that they covered their wickedness under the appearance of grave and considerate procedure, in consulting among themselves to destroy him as a man who no longer ought to be tolerated on the earth. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that his mind was wounded, as we have just seen, by so many and so sharp temptations.


1 - "I am become like a broken vessel;" that is, utterly neglected as being worthless.

2 - Horsley takes the same view. He reads, "the mighty."

3 - "Fearfulness on every side, or terror round about. In Heb., magor missabib, which name Jeremiah gave to Pashur the priest, signifying that he should be a terror to himself and to all his friends; Jeremiah 20:3, 4." -- Ainsworth. Horsley reads, "Truly I heard the angry muttering of the mighty, of them that are the general dread." On this he has the following note: "msvyv mgvr, I take this to be a phrase describing the mighty, whose malignant threats against him he overheard, as persons universally dreaded for their power and their cruelty."

I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind - Like the man who is dead, and who has passed away from the recollection of mankind. Compare Psalm 88:4-5. The Hebrew is, "as a dead man from the heart;" that is, from the memory or recollection of men, so as to be no more remembered; no more regarded. The expression is nearly the same in meaning as our common English proverb: "out of sight, out of mind." The allusion is to the fact that a man who is dead is soon forgotten. He is missed at first by a few friends, while the rest of the world knows little about him, or cares little for him. He is no longer seen where he has been accustomed to be seen, at the place of business, in the social circle, in the scenes of amusement, in the streets, or in public assemblies. For a short period a vacancy is created which attracts attention and causes regret. But the world moves on. Another comes to fill his place, and soon his absence ceases to be a subject of remark, or a cause of regret; the world says little about him, and soon he altogether ceases to be remembered. At no distant time the rude board with his name written on it, or the marble sculptured with all the skill of art, falls down. The passing traveler casts an eye upon the "name" of him who slept his last sleep there, and neither knows nor cares who he was.
"The gay will laugh
When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care
Plod on, and each one as before will chase
His favorite phantom"
- Bryant
"On my grassy grave
The men of future times will careless tread,
And read my name upon the sculptured stone;
Nor will the sound, familiar to their ears,
Recall my vanish'd memory."
- Henry Kirke White
It is sad to reflect that this is to be our lot; but so it is. It would cast a most gloomy shade over life if this was to be the end of man, and if he passed from existence as soon as he passes from the recollection of the living. The idea of the psalmist here is, that, in the circumstances to which he referred, he had been forgotten by mankind, and he uses the most striking image which could be employed to convey that idea.
I am like a broken vessel - Margin, as in Hebrew, "like a vessel that perisheth." That is, like a vessel made of clay - a piece of pottery - that is easily broken and rendered worthless. This is a favorite comparison with Jeremiah. See Jeremiah 22:28; Jeremiah 48:38; Lamentations 4:2. Compare also Psalm 2:9; Isaiah 30:14; Hosea 8:8.

I am forgotten as a dead man - I am considered as a person adjudged to death. I am like a broken vessel-like a thing totally useless.

I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind,.... Either by his friends, being out of sight, out of mind; as even the nearest relations and acquaintance are, in process of time, when dead, Ecclesiastes 9:5; or by the Lord; which shows the weakness of his faith, the uncomfortable frame he was in, through darkness and desertion; see Psalm 88:5;
I am like a broken vessel; or a "perishing vessel" (c); or "a vessel of perdition" (d): the Septuagint version renders it "a lost vessel" (e); one entirely useless, wholly lost, and irrecoverably so; like a broken vessel, which can never be put together again, Isaiah 30:14; a most sad apprehension he had of himself, as if his case was desperate, and he a vessel of wrath; compare with this, Romans 9:22.
(c) "sicut vas periens", Montanus, Cocceius, Gejerus. (d) So Ainsworth. (e) V. L. Pagninus, Musculus, Piscator.

he is forgotten as one dead, and contemned as a useless broken vessel.

A broken vessel - Which is irreparable, and useless, and therefore despised by all.

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