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A.M. 2962. B.C. 1042.
This Psalm was undoubtedly composed by David; but whether when he was persecuted by Saul, and calumniated by Doeg, (see 1 Samuel 26:19 ,) or whether at the time of Absalom’s rebellion, is uncertain. Aben Ezra and Kimchi, with several others of the Jewish interpreters, think it was written at the former period, with whom most commentators seem to agree. The Syriac translators, however, ascribe it to the latter time, in which case, in one part of it, he refers to the traitor Ahithophel, who, in a fit of despair, went and hanged himself, (2 Samuel 17:23 ,) in which last circumstance he exactly typified Judas, who, without all question, was prophetically intended in this Psalm, for so St. Peter expounds it, Acts 1:20 , including, however, the persecuting Jews, against whom the psalmist denounces the most dreadful judgments. And, in this view, the curses, as they are called, can give no offence to any well- disposed mind; for in reality they are mere prophetic denunciations, and accordingly should be translated throughout in the future tense, as we have had occasion to observe more than once before, concerning other similar passages. Here then David, as a type of Christ, complains of his enemies, and appeals to God, Psalms 109:1-5 . Foretels their destruction, Psalms 109:6-20 . Prays that God would succour him in his low condition, Psalms 109:21-29 . Concludes with a joyful hope of deliverance, Psalms 109:30 , Psalms 109:31 .
Psalms 109:1. Hold not thy peace Do not neglect me, but take notice of my extreme danger and misery, and let my sentence come forth from thy presence, Psalms 17:2. Delay not to give judgment upon the appeal made to thee. O God of my praise The author and matter of all my praises: in whom I glory, and not in any wisdom or strength of my own: who hast given me continual occasion to praise thee; whom I have praised, and will praise while I live, and hope to praise to all eternity.
Psalms 109:2-4. The mouth of the wicked, and the mouth of the deceitful Of those who add hypocrisy and perfidiousness to their malice; are opened against me They speak against me freely, boldly, and publicly, without any fear or shame. They have spoken against me Hebrew, אתי , itti, to, or with me, as this particle commonly signifies; with a lying tongue With deep dissimulation, and professions of friendship and kindness: or, against me, with calumnies, or false and malicious reports. They compassed me with words of hatred Which, though covered with specious pretences, proceeded from deep malice and hatred, and were designed to work my destruction. Without a cause Without any just provocation given by me. For my love they are my adversaries They requite my love and goodwill with enmity and mischief, Psalms 109:5; but I give myself unto prayer
Hebrew, ואני תפלה , vaani tephillah, but I prayer, that is, I am a man of prayer. Thus, I peace, is put for, I am for peace, as we render it, Psalms 120:7. The sense here is, While they reproach and curse me, I pray, either, 1st, For them, as Psalms 35:13; or, 2d, For himself: I do not render unto them evil for evil, but quietly commit myself and my cause to God by prayer, desiring him to plead my cause against them.
Psalms 109:6-7. Set thou a wicked man over him Either over all his enemies, speaking of them collectively, or over some one particular enemy, who was worse than any of the rest, more implacable and inexcusable, whom he did not think proper to name. Set a wicked man over him to be as cruel and oppressive to him as he hath been to others; for God often makes one wicked man a scourge to another. Hebrew, רשׁע , the wicked, or the wicked one; namely, Satan, who is mentioned in the next clause. Let him be, or he shall be, delivered into the power of Satan, to be influenced and ruled by him at his pleasure. Let Satan stand Hebrew, ושׂשׂן יעמד , and Satan, or the adversary, as the word means, shall stand at his right hand To molest and vex him, and hinder him in all his affairs; or rather to accuse him, for this was the place and posture of accusers in the Jewish courts. When he shall be judged When he shall be called to an account, and his cause be examined before thy tribunal; let his prayer become sin That is, be turned into sin, or be as unavailable with thee for his relief as his sins. When he makes supplication to his judge, as Job speaks, Job 9:16, for pity and pardon, let his judge be the more provoked and enraged by it. If David spoke thus in reference to Doeg or Ahithophel, (see the contents,) it was only as they were types of Judas: at least the Holy Ghost intended it of Judas, and the persecutors of our Lord, as we learn Acts 1:20, of whom this whole paragraph, to the end of Psalms 109:19, is a prophecy. Thus Dr. Horne on Psalms 109:6: “A transition is here made to the adversaries of Messiah; primarily to Judas, who was guide to them that took Jesus, Acts 1:16; secondarily to the synagogue, of whom Judas may be considered as an epitome and representative. It is foretold, that by betraying and murdering the best of masters, they should subject themselves to the tyranny of the worst; that they should become slaves to the wicked one, who should justly be set over them, when they had delivered themselves into his hands; that Satan, who had stood by them to tempt them, should stand at their right hand, to accuse them at the tribunal of God; that, when tried, they would be convicted and condemned, and even their prayer would be an abomination in the sight of the Lord, as being offered without true contrition and repentance, without faith, hope, or charity. Such is the wretched state of the Jews, estranged from God, and in bondage to the devil; such the prayers which, from hardened and malignant hearts, they continually utter for the excision of all Christians, and for the extirpation of that blessed name on which Christians call.”
Psalms 109:8. Let his days be few The days of his life. Let him die an untimely death. So did Ahithophel, and so did Judas; both hanging themselves. And let another take his office Made void by his death. This is the clause which St. Peter has cited and applied to Judas, in his discourse to the disciples, at the election of Matthias into Judas’s place. He cites, at the same time, a clause from Psalms 69:25; Let their habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein. This latter sentence, though in the plural number in the Hebrew, yet is applied by St. Peter in the singular number to Judas. The passage in this Psalm is singular, “yet applicable,” says Dr. Horne, “not to Judas only, but to the whole nation of the Jews; whose days, after they had crucified the Lord of glory, were few; who were dispossessed of the place and office which they held as the church of God, and to which, with all its honours and privileges, the Gentile Christian Church succeeded in their stead, when the Aaronical priesthood was abolished, and that of the true Melchisedek established for ever.”
Psalms 109:9-10. Let his children be Hebrew, יהיו בניו jihju banaiv, his children shall be fatherless Namely, while they are but children, and so are unable to provide for themselves; and his wife a widow Made a widow by his death, and continuing a widow. Let his children be vagabonds Hebrew, ונוע ינועו בניו , in wandering, his children shall wander, that is, they shall certainly wander, and beg Not knowing where to obtain the least sustenance. Let them seek, &c., out of their desolate places Into which they have fled for fear and shame, as not daring to show their faces among men. “If, by the wretched death of Judas,” says the last-mentioned divine, “his wife became a widow, and his children orphans, vagabonds, and beggars, their fate was but a prelude to that of thousands and tens of thousands of the same nation, whose husbands and fathers came afterward to a miserable end at the destruction of Jerusalem. Their children and children’s children have since been continually vagabonds upon the earth, in the state of Cain, when he had murdered his righteous brother, not cut off, but marvellously preserved for punishment and wo.” Thus also Dr. Hammond on these verses: “By this is described, in a very lively manner, the condition of the Jewish posterity, ever since their ancestors fell under that signal vengeance for the crucifying of Christ. 1st, Their desolations and devastations in their own country, and being rejected thence. 2d, Their continual wanderings from place to place, scattered over the face of the earth: and, 3d, Their remarkable covetousness, keeping them always poor and beggarly, be they never so rich, and continually labouring and moiling for gain, as the poorest are wont to do; and this is continually the constant course attending this people, wheresoever they are scattered.”
Psalms 109:11-12. Let the extortioner catch, &c. Hebrew, ינקשׁ נשׁה , jenakkesh nosheh, the creditor, or usurer, shall insnare all that he hath: that is, take it away, not only by oppression and violence, but by cunning artifices and fraud, whereby such persons are wont to entangle, and so ruin their debtors. Let the stranger Who hath no right to his goods, and will use no pity in spoiling him; spoil his labour All the fruits of his labour. Let there be There shall be none to extend mercy to him, &c. He and his offspring shall be unpitied and hated as the public enemies of mankind. “Since the destruction of Jerusalem how often hath this race been seized, pillaged, stripped, and empoverished by prince and people, in all the nations of the known world, none appearing, as in other cases, to favour and extend mercy to them:” see notes on Leviticus 26:21-39; Deuteronomy 28:29-68. “They have had no nation, none,” says Dr. Jackson, “to avenge their grievous wrong, which the Lord God of their forefathers had ordained they should suffer at all times and in all places, wheresoever they have come, without redress. Nay, their general carriage hath been so odious and preposterous, that albeit Christian magistrates had conspired together for their good, they would themselves have certainly provoked their own misery.”
Psalms 109:13-15. Let his posterity, &c. His posterity shall be cut off, &c: they suffered an excision by the Roman sword, and in the generation following, their name, as a church, and civil polity, were blotted out of the list of states and kingdoms. Let the iniquity of his father be remembered Hebrew, יזכר , it shall be remembered against him, or punished in him, as God had threatened to deal with great delinquents, Exodus 20:5. Let them be יהיו , they shall be, namely, the sins of his parents last mentioned; before the Lord In God’s sight and memory, to provoke him to punish them: they shall not be covered nor pardoned. That upon them, as Christ foretold, might come all the righteous blood shed from the blood of righteous Abel; &c., Matthew 22:25. For “the blood of the prophets cried for vengeance against those who crucified the Lord of the prophets.”
Psalms 109:16. Because he remembered not “The crime which brought upon its perpetrators all the above-mentioned judgments and calamities, is here pointed out too plainly to be mistaken. They remembered not to show mercy To him who showed it to all the world; they persecuted him who for our sakes became poor; they betrayed and murdered the lowly and afflicted Jesus, whose heart was broken with sorrow for their sins, and with a sense of the punishment due to them.”
Psalms 109:17-20. As he loved cursing To curse others, as appears from the blessing here opposed to it, and from the next verse; to wish and to procure mischief to others; so let it come unto him Hebrew, תבואהו , teboeehu, it shall come unto him; the mischief in which he delighted, and which he both wished and designed to others, shall fall upon himself. As he delighted not in blessing In desiring and promoting the welfare of others; so let it be, &c. Hebrew, תרחק , tirchak, it shall be far from him He shall never meet with the blessing of those righteous courses which he always hated and avoided. As he clothed himself with cursing As his very business was to slander others everywhere, taking a pride in the mischievous effects of his wretched lies; so let it come Hebrew, ותבא , vatabo, it shall come, into his bowels, like water He shall feel the miserable fruit of his wickedness spreading itself, like the water he drinks, to every artery and vein; and sticking as close to him as oil unto the bones. As the garment which covereth him It shall compass him on every side as a garment; he shall be involved in perpetual misfortunes and miseries, and never be able to shake them off. And as a girdle wherewith he is girded continually He shall be surrounded with, and entangled in, straits and difficulties, without any possibility of being extricated from them. Observe, reader, “They who reject Christ, reject the fountain of blessing, and choose a curse for their portion; and this portion, when they have finally made their choice, will certainly be given to them in full measure.” We see here that “the curse which lighted on the Jewish nation is resembled, for its universality and adhesion, to a garment which covereth the whole man, and is girded close about his loins; for its diffusive and penetrating nature, to water, which, from the stomach passeth into the bowels, and is dispersed through all the vessels of the frame; and to oil, which imperceptibly insinuates itself into the very bones. When that unhappy people pronounced the words, His blood be on us, and on our children, then did they put on the envenomed garment which has stuck to and tormented the nation ever since; then did they eagerly swallow down that dreadful draught, the effects whereof have been the infatuation and misery of upward of seventeen hundred years! Now, if such, in this world, be the reward of Christ’s adversaries, and of those who speak evil against him, what will hereafter be the vengeance inflicted on those who crucify him afresh, and put him again to open shame? Hebrews 6:6. And what will be the operation of the sentence, Go, ye cursed, upon the bodies and souls of the wicked? How will it at once affect all the senses of the former, and all the faculties of the latter, with pain, anguish, sorrow, and despair! Think on these things, O sinner! tremble and repent.” Horne.
Psalms 109:21-22. But do thou for me, O God Namely, what I desire, which he expresses in the next clause, saying, Deliver thou me Or, he means, Do thou act for me; be not silent or still, but stir up thyself to work on my behalf; for thy name’s sake For the glory of thy faithfulness, which is highly concerned in giving me the deliverance which thou hast promised me; because thy mercy is good That is, gracious, and ready to do good to all, but especially to those that love and fear thee. For I am poor and needy And therefore a very proper object for thy pity and help. And my heart is wounded within me I am wounded not slightly, but even to the very heart, with soul-piercing sorrows.
Psalms 109:23. I am gone, &c. Hebrew, נהלכתי , neehlacheti, I am made to go, either, 1st, From place to place; which was David’s case when he was persecuted by Saul and by Absalom, and Christ’s case upon earth when he had no certain place where to lay his head. Or, 2d, Into the grave, as this phrase frequently signifies; like the shadow when it declineth Toward the evening, when, the sun setting, it vanisheth instantly and irrecoverably. I am tossed up and down as a locust Which of itself is unstable, continually leaping and moving from place to place, and is easily driven away with every wind. So am I exposed to perpetual and successive changes within myself, and to a thousand violences and mischiefs from other persons and things.
Psalms 109:24-25 . My knees are weak through fasting Either through forced fasting for want of food, when he was persecuted, or for want of appetite when he was sick, or through voluntary fasting, which the frequency and long continuance of his sufferings induced him to use. I became also a reproach unto them Instead of that pity, which either religion or humanity should have taught them to exercise toward a person in extreme misery, they loaded me with reproaches and scorns. They shaked their heads By way of contempt and derision. In all this David was a type of Christ, who, in his humiliation, was thus wounded, thus weakened, thus reproached, and at whom they thus shook their heads, saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. He was also a type of the church, which is often afflicted, tossed with tempests, and not comforted.
Psalms 109:26-29. Help me, O Lord my God But my hope is, that thou, my God, wilt seasonably interpose for my relief, and save me Out of my troubles; according to thy mercy That tender mercy which is wont to extend itself to those who have nothing else to depend upon. That they may know that this is thy hand Being convinced of the eminence, singularity, and strangeness of the work. Let them curse, but bless thou I can patiently bear their curses, as being causeless, and fully compensated by thy blessing. Or, rather, as the Hebrew, יקללו המה , jekalelu hemma, is literally rendered, They will curse; I expect nothing else from them; ואתה תברךְ , veatta tebareck, but thou wilt bless me, and all those that trust in thee; for, blessed is the man who trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. When they arise let them be ashamed Hebrew, קמו ויבשׁו , kamu vajeboshu, they have arisen, namely, have taken active measures against me; they shall be ashamed Disappointed of their wicked hopes and designs against me, and covered with their own confusion as with a mantle For that unexpected destruction which they have brought upon themselves. Observe, reader, if God bless us, we need not care who curseth us; for how can they curse whom God hath not cursed? Nay, whom he hath blessed? Numbers 23:28. Men’s curses are impotent, God’s blessings are omnipotent. And those whom men unjustly curse, may in faith expect and pray for God’s blessing, his special blessing. When the Pharisees cast out the poor man for confessing Christ, Christ found him, John 9:35. When men, without cause, say all the ill they can of us, and wish all the ills they can to us, we may with comfort lift up our hearts to God in this petition: Let them curse, but bless thou.
Psalms 109:30-31 . I will greatly praise the Lord For that deliverance which I confidently expect; with my mouth Not only with my heart, in secret, but with my mouth, openly; and among the multitude Or, among the mighty, or the great men, as בתוךְ רבים , betoch rabbim, may be properly translated; for he shall stand at the right hand of the poor Nigh to him, as a present help; as his patron and advocate, to plead his cause against, and defend him from, his adversary, who stood in that place to accuse him, and procure his condemnation and destruction; to save him from those that condemn his soul That pass a sentence of death upon him. God was David’s protector in his sufferings, and was present also with the Lord Jesus in his; stood at his right hand, so that he was not moved, Psalms 16:8; saved his soul from those that pretended to be the judges of it, and received it into his own hands. Let all those that suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to him, in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator, 1 Peter 4:19.
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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 109". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30