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Psalm 120

Prayer for Deliverance from Slanderers

A Song of Ascents.


In my distress I cry to the Lord,

that he may answer me:


“Deliver me, O Lord,

from lying lips,

from a deceitful tongue.”


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Confession and Complaints.

A song of degrees.

1 In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and he heard me.   2 Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue.   3 What shall be given unto thee? or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue?   4 Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper.

Here is, I. Deliverance from a false tongue obtained by prayer. David records his own experience of this.

1. He was brought into distress, into great distress, by lying lips and a deceitful tongue. There were those that sought his ruin, and had almost effected it, by lying. (1.) By telling lies to him. They flattered him with professions and protestations of friendships, and promises of kindness and service to him, that they might the more securely and without suspicion carry on their designs against him, and might have an opportunity, by betraying his counsels, to do him a mischief. They smiled in his face and kissed him, even when they were aiming to smite him under the fifth rib. The most dangerous enemies, and those which it is most hard to guard against, are such as carry on their malicious designs under the colour of friendship. The Lord deliver every good man from such lying lips. (2.) By telling lies of him. They forged false accusations against him and laid to his charge things that he knew not. This has often been the lot not only of the innocent, but of the excellent ones, of the earth, who have been greatly distressed by lying lips, and have not only had their names blackened and made odious by calumnies in conversation, but their lives, and all that is dear to them in this world, endangered by false-witness-bearing in judgment. David was herein a type of Christ, who was distressed by lying lips and deceitful tongues.

2. In this distress he had recourse to God by faithful and fervent prayer: I cried unto the Lord. Having no fence against false tongues, he appealed to him who has all men's hearts in his hand, who has power over the consciences of bad men, and can, when he pleases, bridle their tongues. His prayer was, "Deliver my soul, O Lord! from lying lips, that my enemies may not by these cursed methods work my ruin." He that had prayed so earnestly to be kept from lying (Ps. cxix. 29) and hated it so heartily in himself (v. 163) might with the more confidence pray to be kept from being belied by others, and from the ill consequences of it.

3. He obtained a gracious answer to this prayer. God heard him; so that his enemies, though they carried their designs very far, were baffled at last, and could not prevail to do him the mischief they intended. The God of truth is, and will be, the protector of his people from lying lips, Ps. xxxvii. 6.

II. The doom of a false tongue foretold by faith, v. 3, 4. As God will preserve his people from this mischievous generation, so he will reckon with their enemies, Ps. xii. 3, 7. The threatening is addressed to the sinner himself, for the awakening of his conscience, if he have any left: "Consider what shall be given unto thee, and what shall be done unto thee, by the righteous Judge of heaven and earth, thou false tongue." Surely sinners durst not do as they do if they knew, and would be persuaded to think, what will be in the end thereof. Let liars consider what shall be given to them: Sharp arrows of the Almighty, with coals of juniper, that is, they will fall and lie for ever under the wrath of God, and will be made miserable by the tokens of his displeasure, which will fly swiftly like arrows, and will strike the sinner ere he is aware and when he sees not who hurts him. This is threatened against liars, Ps. lxiv. 7. God shall shoot at them with an arrow; suddenly shall they be wounded. They set God at a distance from them, but from afar his arrows can reach them. They are sharp arrows, and arrows of the mighty, the Almighty; for they will pierce through the strongest armour and strike deep into the hardest heart. The terrors of the Lord are his arrows (Job vi. 4), and his wrath is compared to burning coals of juniper, which do not flame or crackle, like thorns under a pot, but have a vehement heat, and keep fire very long (some say, a year round) even when they seem to be gone out. This is the portion of the false tongue; for all that love and make a lie shall have their portion in the lake that burns eternally, Rev. xxii. 15.