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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
Psalms 140



Verses 1-13

To the Chief Musician, a Psalm of David. Very likely this Psalm was written by David while he was being hunted about by Saul, and while all manner of falsehoods were being spoken against him. He therefore comforts himself in his God. He writes this Psalm, and he means to have it sung, and sung well; so he dedicates it “to the chief Musician.” There are some parts of our life which are so crowded with urgent necessity, and so full of divine mercy that we feel that, if we ever get through them, we will make a song about our deliverance, and dedicate that song unto God through “the chief Musician.”

Psalms 140:1. Deliver me, O Lord, from the evil man: preserve me from the violent man;

He is wicked at heart, and violent in his temper. Whenever we meet with such an adversary, we have good reason to cry to God: “Deliver me: preserve me.” Yet, if we must have enemies, we prefer that they should be bad men; we do not wish to have a child of God against us; if we must have an antagonist, we would much rather that he should be one who is “evil” and “violent.”

Psalms 140:2. Which imagine mischief’s in their heart; continually are they gathered together for war.

It goes hard with a peace-loving man — a man of quiet spirit, — when he is beset by those whose very heart is set on mischief, and who cannot meet one another without conspiring to prepare for some fresh form of battle.

Psalms 140:3. They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adders’ poison is under their lips. Selah.

Before a serpent strikes any object, its tongue is in quick motion. If you ever see a cobra when he is angry, you will notice that his tongue darts to and fro, as if impatient to sting; and the psalmist here, writing of the tongue of the ungodly, remarks how quickly it moves. They seem to have sharpened it — to have prepared it — for all manner of mischief. “Adders’ poison” — the poison of the deadliest known serpent in the East — “is under their lips.” Perhaps you think that this is a very dreadful description of some remarkably bad man; so it is, but remember that, when Paul, in his Epistle to the Romans, wishes to describe us all, both Jews and Gentiles, he quotes this very passage, and says, “The poison of asps is under their lips.”

There is poison in our mouths still unless grace has taken it away. We, too, shall soon be speaking evil, and talking slanderously, if the grace of God does not keep our tongues and our lips.

Psalms 140:4-5. Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from the violent man; who have planned to overthrow my goings. The proud have hid a snare for me,-

“They have put it where I cannot see it; I do not know where it is, nor what it is; but know that they want to lead me into such sin that they can afterwards turn round upon me, and accuse me for it: ‘The proud have hid a snare for me,’” —

Psalms 140:5. And cords; they have spread a net by the wayside;-

“ Close to where I am walking, so that, if I go even an inch out of the way, I shall be caught in it. They seem to be tempting me in my usual course of life: ‘They have spread a net by the wayside;’” —

Psalms 140:5. They have set gins for me. Selah.

As men try to ensnare poor birds in all kinds of traps, so the ungodly sometimes seek the destruction of the righteous by setting many snares for them.

Psalms 140:6. I said unto the LORD, Thou art my God:

Ah! that was the right thing to do, — to leave the ungodly and their traps, and go straight away to God: “I said unto the Lord, Thou art my God.”

Psalms 140:6-7. Hear the voice of my supplications, O Lord. O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation, thou hast covered my head in the day of battle.

“When the darts flew thick and fast, and when the battleaxe came down with a mighty crash, ‘ Thou hast covered my head in the day of battle.’” This Psalm reminds me of that passage in the song of Deborah and Barak: “O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength.” What wonders we also have been enabled to do by the upholding and preserving grace of God!

Psalms 140:8. Grant not, O LORD, the desires of the wicked: further not his wicked device; lest they exalt themselves. Selah.

If it seemed that God’s providence was helping them against the righteous, they would be too proud to be borne with; they would lift up their heads on high, and say, “See how God is with us, how he permits us to have our way.”

Psalms 140:9. As for the head of those that compass me about, let the mischief of their own lips cover them.

This may be read as a prophecy in the future tense: “The mischief of their own lips shall cover them.”

Psalms 140:10. Let burning coals fall upon them :-

Or, “Burning coals shall fall upon them.”

Psalms 140:10. Let them be cast into the fire; into deep pits, that they rise not up again.

The Psalmist doubtless had before his mind’s eye the picture of Sodom, where burning coals fell on the guilty cities, and where men stumbled into the fire, and when they tried to escape, fell into the deep slime pits, and perished. And, truly, it is but just that, if men lie, and slander, and try to tempt the righteous to their destruction, they should fall into the pits that they have themselves digged.

Psalms 140:11. Let not an evil speaker be established in the earth:

Neither shall he be; the man who is glib of tongue, and who uses that facility of speech for the destruction of the characters of godly men, shall never be established.

Psalms 140:11. Evil shall hunt the violent man to overthrow him.

His own dogs shall eat him; he was a huntsman against the righteous, and, behold, the evil of his own mouth shall turn upon him to devour him: “Evil shall hunt the violent man to overthrow him.”

Psalms 140:12. I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and the right of the poor.

We may always leave such matters with the Lord. God is the poor man’s Executor, and the proud man’s Executioner. He will take care of the oppressed, and such as are down-trodden.

Psalms 140:13. Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name: the upright shall dwell in thy presence.

Now let us read the next Psalm, which is to much the same effect.

This exposition consisted of readings from Psalms 140, 141.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Psalms 140:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 24th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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