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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Psalms 64

 

 

Introduction

LXIV.

The situation indicated in this psalm is one that frequently occurs in Israel’s hymn-book. A prey to calumny, the poet for himself, or, more probably, for the community, implores the protection of God, and then suddenly takes up the prophetic strain—persuaded, from the known order of Providence, that retribution must come—and foretells the sudden dissipation of the deeply-laid schemes of those who vex and oppress God’s chosen people.

The last couplet is probably a liturgical addition, and not part of the original poem, which without it divides into three regular stanzas of seven lines.

Title.—See title, Psalms 4.


Verse 1

(1) My prayer.—Rather, my cry, complaint, as in Psalms 55:2.


Verse 2

(2) Secret counsel . . . insurrection—Better, secret league (sôd) . . . noisy gathering (rigshah). For sôd see Psalms 25:14, and for rigshah see Note to Psalms 2:2.


Verse 3

(3) For the figure in this and the following verse, see Psalms 10:7; Psalms 11:2; Psalms 52:2; Psalms 57:4; Psalms 59:7.

“’Tis slander.

Whose edge is sharper than the sword.”

SHAKESPEARE.

For the ellipse in “they bend (literally, tread) their arrows,” see Psalms 58:7.


Verse 4

(4) And fear not.—These are utterly unscrupulous, fearing neither God nor man.


Verse 5

(5) They encourage themselves.—Literally, they strengthen for themselves an evil thing (or “word,” margin, LXX., and Vulg.,) which evidently means that they take their measures carefully, and are prepared to carry them out resolutely.

They commune . . .—Better, they calculate how they may lay snares privily. The conspirators carefully and in secret go over every detail of their plot.

Who shall see them?—Literally, who shall look to them? which seems at first glance to mean, “who will see the snares?” but this is weak. It may be equivalent to, “who is likely to see us?” the question being put indirectly. But in 1 Samuel 16:7, the expression, “looketh on,” implies “regard for,” which may possibly be the meaning here, “who careth for them?”


Verse 6

(6) They search out iniquities—i.e., they plan wicked schemes.

They accomplish a diligent search.—See margin, which indicates the difficulty in this clause. The versions and some MSS. also suggest a corruption of the tent. Read “They have completed their subtle measures” (literally, the planned plan).


Verse 7-8

(7, 8) The meaning of these verses is clear. In the moment of their imagined success, their deeply-laid schemes just on the point of ripening, a sudden Divine retribution overtakes the wicked, and all their calumnies, invented with such cunning, fall back on their own heads. But the construction is most perplexing. The text presents a tangled maze of abrupt clauses, which, arranged according to the accents, run: And God shoots an arrow, sudden are their wounds, and they make it (or him) fall on themselves their tongue. The last clause seems to pronounce the law which obtains in Divine judgment. While God orders the retribution it is yet the recoil of their own evil on the guilty. In these cases,

“We still have judgment here, that we but teach

Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return

To plague the inventor; this evenhanded justice

Commends the ingredients of our poisoned chalice

To our own lips.”

SHAKSPEARE: Macbeth.

Flee away.—The verb (nâdad) properly means to flutter the wings like a bird (Isaiah 10:14).


Verse 9

(9) For they shall wisely consider.—Rather, And they understand his work.


Verse 10

(10) Shall glory.—Or, perhaps, shall shine forth clear, i.e., shall have their cause acknowledged just. The LXX. and Vulg. seem to have understood it so: “shall be praised.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Psalms 64:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/psalms-64.html. 1905.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, December 6th, 2019
the First Week of Advent
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