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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.

9. As for the head, etc. There may be a doubt whether, under the term head, he refers to the chief of the faction opposed to him; for we call suppose an inversion in the sentence, and a change of the plural to the singular number, bringing out this sense. 229229     “Car il pourreit estre que l’ordre des mots seroit renverse, et que le nombre singulier seroit mis pour le pluriel, en ce sens,” etc. — Fr. “Let the mischief of their wicked speeches, which they intended against me, fall upon their own head.” 230230     “The meaning of the verse may be, that the mischief designed by the wicked against others shall fall on their own head, as Psalm 7:17, ‘his violence shall descend on his own head;’ or it may express the leader of the hostile party, as Saul or Doeg, in the case of David being here the speaker.” — Phillips. As almost all interpreters, however, have taken the other view, I have adopted it, only understanding the reference as being to Saul rather than Doeg. There follows an imprecation upon the whole company of his enemies generally, that coals may fall upon them, alluding to the awful fate of Sodom and Gomorrha. We find this elsewhere (Psalm 11:6) set forth by the Spirit of God as an example of Divine vengeance, to terrify the wicked; and Jude (Jude 1:7) declares that God testified, by this example of everlasting significance, that he would be the Judge of all the ungodly. Some translate what follows — the wilt cast them into the fire, which might pass. But as: ב, beth, in the Hebrew often denotes instrumentality, we may properly render the words — thou wilt cast them down By fire, or With fire, as God sent it forth against Sodom and Gomorrha. He prays they may be sunk into deep pits, whence they may never rise. God sometimes heals those whom he has smitten with great severity; David cuts off the reprobate from the hope of pardon, as knowing them to be beyond recovery. Had they been disposable to repentance, he would have been inclinable on his part to mercy.


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