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140. Psalm 140

Deliver me, O Lord, from the evil man: preserve me from the violent man;

2Which imagine mischiefs in their heart; continually are they gathered together for war.

3They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adders’ poison is under their lips. Selah.

4Keep me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from the violent man; who have purposed to overthrow my goings.

5The proud have hid a snare for me, and cords; they have spread a net by the wayside; they have set gins for me. Selah.

6I said unto the Lord, Thou art my God: hear the voice of my supplications, O Lord.

7O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation, thou hast covered my head in the day of battle.

8Grant not, O Lord, the desires of the wicked: further not his wicked device; lest they exalt themselves. Selah.

9 As for the head of those that compass me about, let the mischief of their own lips cover them.

10Let burning coals fall upon them: let them be cast into the fire; into deep pits, that they rise not up again.

11Let not an evil speaker be established in the earth: evil shall hunt the violent man to overthrow him.

12I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and the right of the poor.

13Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name: the upright shall dwell in thy presence.

To the chief Musician, etc. I cannot bring myself to restrict this Psalm to Doeg, as the great body of interpreters do, for the context will clearly show that it speaks of Saul, and of the counselors who ceased not to inflame the king — himself sufficiently incensed against the life of one who was a saint of God. Being as he was a figure of Christ, we need not wonder that the agents of the devil directed so much of their rage against him. And this is the reason why he animadverts so sharply upon their rancor and treachery.

The terms wicked and violent men denote their unwarranted attempts at his destruction without provocation given. He therefore commends his cause to God, as having studied peace with them, as never having injured them, but being the innocent object of their unjust persecution. The same rule must be observed by us all, as it is against violence and wickedness that the help of God is extended. David is not Multiplying mere terms of reproach as men do in their personal disputes, but conciliating God’s favor by supplying a proof of his innocence, for he must always be upon the side of good and peaceable men.

2. Who imagine mischief’s in their heart. Here he charges them with inward malignity of heart. And it is plain that the reference is not to one man merely, for he passes to the plural number (in a manner sufficiently common,) reverting from the head to all his associates and copartners in guilt. Indeed what was formerly said in the singular number may be taken indefinitely, as grammarians say. In general he repeats what I have noticed already, that the hostility to which he was subjected arose from no cause of his. From this we learn that the more wickedly our enemies assail us, and the more of treachery and clandestine acts they manifest, the nearer is the promised aid of the Holy Spirit, who himself dictated this form of prayer by the mouth of David. The second clause may be rendered in three ways. Literally it reads, who gather wars, and so some understand it. But it, is well known that the prepositions are often omitted in the Hebrew, and no doubt he means that they stirred up general enmity by their false information’s being as the trumpet which sounds to battle. Some render the verb — to conspire, or plot together, but this is a farfetched and meager sense. He intimates afterwards in what manner they stirred up unjust war by the wicked calumnies which they spread, as they could not crush a good and innocent person by violence, otherwise than by first overwhelming him with calumny.


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