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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Psalms 140

 

 

Verse 1

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

Psalms 140:1-13 -Prayer to Yahweh; wickedness of the foe from whom David prays deliverance (Psalms 140:1-5); the distress laid before Yahweh (Psalms 140:6-8); doom of the evil-speaking foe (Psalms 140:9-11); confidence that Yahweh will deliver and give cause for thanks-giving to the righteous (Psalms 140:12-13). As in Psalms 138:1-8 David set before his seed God's promise as the anchor of hope (2 Samuel 7:1-29); and in Psalms 139:1-24 God's omniscience as our consolation in danger and motive for shunning evil; so in this psalm he sets forth the danger from calumnious enemies, and our only safety in Yahweh, our strength. Compare Psalms 18:1-50; 2 Samuel 23:6-7.

The title attests David's authorship, which the similarity between this psalm and David's other psalms confirms.

Deliver me ... preserve me (the same Hebrew word as in David's psalm, Psalms 12:7)

From the violent man - Hebrew, 'from the man of violences:' the ideal representative of all enemies of David and his race. Compare David's similar language in another psalm, Psalms 18:48, margin; and 2 Samuel 22:49. Such a one was Saul, David's most powerful and unrelenting enemy, the type of all enemies of David's race, and of the Divine Son of David. Compare Psalms 52:1-9.


Verse 2

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

Continually are they gathered together (for) war - Hebrew, wars; not mere personal, disputes, but wars in the proper sense. On "they are gathered together," or, 'they gather themselves,' cf. the Davidic Psalms 56:6; Psalms 59:3.


Verse 3

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

They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent - not that a serpent sharpens its tongue: the point of comparison is to the venom of a serpent. So the next clause, "adders' poison," etc.: cf. David's Psalms 58:4. They have sharpened their tongues to give as deadly a wound as a serpent gives. So David's Psalms 64:3.

Adders' poison is under their lips. Selah - rather, 'asps.' The Hebrew term, `akshuwb (Hebrew #5919), occurs only here. "Under their lips," cf. Psalms 10:7.


Verse 4

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

Keep me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from the violent man - (cf. Psalms 71:4.) The "Selah" at the end of last verse marks that the second division of the first strophe begins here. This second division begins with much the same prayer as the first (Psalms 140:1).

Who have purposed to overthrow my goings - (Psalms 118:13; also 56:13.)


Verse 5

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

The proud. The same "proud" enemies as in Psalms 138:6.

Have hid a snare ... cords ... a net ... gins for me. A favourite image with David (Psalms 31:4; Psalms 57:6; Psalms 64:5; Psalms 142:3). He multiplies terms of a synonymous kind, to express that every sort of plot and snare to which he had been exposed will recur again to his seed. He, at the same time, points to the Lord as the sure Deliverer from them all.


Verse 6

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

I said unto the Lord, Thou art my God - from Psalms 31:14.

Hear the voice of my supplications, O Lord - from Psalms 28:2; Psalms 28:6.


Verse 7

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

O God the Lord, the strength of my salvation - (Psalms 62:1; Psalms 62:11, margin.) Powerless as to saving myself, I have my salvation-strength in thee.

Thou hast covered my head in the day of battle - (Psalms 5:11, margin.) "Battle" - literally, 'armature,' arms. The head is specified, as the part where a wound would be most deadly. Compare Psalms 60:7; 1 Samuel 28:2, where a king's body-guard is called keeper of his head.


Verse 8

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

Grant not, O Lord, the desires of the wicked - against me and my race (Psalms 27:12).

Further not his wicked device. The Hebrew implies deliberate purpose, malice prepense (zemamo) (Psalms 31:13, end; 37:12).

(Lest) they exalt themselves - literally, 'they will exalt themselves;' namely, otherwise. Compare Psalms 66:7, end; Deuteronomy 32:27.


Verse 9

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

As for the head of those that compass me about (namely, to destroy me), let the mischief of their own lips cover them. A very different covering from that wherewith God 'has covered the Psalmist's head in the day of battle' (Psalms 140:7). It is in order to make this contrast between their covering, of head and his that "the head of those," etc., is placed first in the nominative-absolute. "The mischief of their own lips" is the mischief which they seek to do me by their calumnies. Compare Psalms 7:16.


Verse 10

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

Let burning coals fall upon them - (Psalms 18:12-13; Psalms 120:4.)

Let them be cast into the fire - rather, 'Let Him (Yahweh) cast them into the fire.'

Into deep pits So the Hebrew commentators But Gesensius takes it as: [ mah


Verse 11

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

Let not an evil speaker be established in the earth (cf. Psalms 101:7, and contrast 102:28): evil shall hunt the violent man - literally, 'Let not a man of the tongue be established in the earth: a man of violence (and) evil, He (Yahweh) shall hunt him.' Compare note, Psalms 140:10; Psalms 35:6, "Let the angel of the Lord persecute them." So the accents require. But the English version is otherwise better, 'A man of violence, evil shall hunt him.'

To overthrow (him) - literally, to 'over-throwings.'


Verse 12

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

I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the ... poor - (Psalms 9:4.) Solomon adopted the same phrase from his father (1 Kings 8:45).


Verse 13

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

The upright shall dwell in thy presence - (Psalms 16:11; Psalms 61:7.)

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 140:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/psalms-140.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 12th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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