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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Scott: Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms
Psalms 109

 

 

Verses 1-31

Psalm 109:1-31

V.I. Most expositors suppose that David composed this Psalm , when persecuted by Saul, who was rendered more implacable, by the base and malicious calumnies of Doeg and others : but some expressions favour the opinion, that it was written when David fled from Absalom, and that Ahithophel, rather than Doeg, is the typical person principally referred to.

(Notes, Psalm 41:9; Psalm 69:22-28; 2 Samuel 15:12.)" The God of my praise;" " whom I am accustomed to praise, and whom I take delight in praising." (Note, Jeremiah 17:14.)

V:2- 5 David was most basely deceived by his ungrateful and rebellious Song of Solomon , Absalom, whose insinuations also tended to depreciate his character : and the cursings and revilings of Shimei, who charged him, to his face, with being the murderer of Saul and his family, were, no doubt, the echo of calumnies circulated against him among many of his subjects; while other slanders, us malicious and groundless, would be better calculated for different descriptions of men. Thus the minds of the people were alienated from their aged king; and they readily joined Absalom in levying war against him, " without a cause," or gratuitous!,;/, when he had done nothing to deserve it, but entirely the contrary. (Note, John 15:22-25.) His indulgent affection for Absalom was excessive; he had preferred and honoured Ahithophel, as his counsellor and friend; and he had spent his life in promoting the benefit of his people, and in pouring out his prayers for them : yet he was thus ungratefully used by all parties.

(Note, Psalm 38:19-20; Psalm 69:10-12; 2 Samuel 15:1-6; 2 Samuel 15:10-15; 2 Samuel 16:5-14.) David had been very useful to Saul, and to Israel in general; and to some of those in particular, who joined in persecuting him : but he had never shewn that affection for Saul, or that friendship to Doeg, which In: had for Absalom and Ahithophel. In all these respects, however, he was only a type of Christ, the history of whose life and death is the best comment on the passage. (Marg. Ref.) " These things David sang in a spiritual sense, in " the person of Christ assaulted by the Jews with all kinds " of revilings" (or blasphemies). Bossuet quoted by Bp. Home.

V:6- 20. Whether David, when he wrote these verses, thought of Doeg; or of Ahithophel, who being a traitor, more resembled Judas, as he also did in murdering himself; (Notes, 2 Samuel 17:23. Matthew 27:3-5;) they are most certainly a prophetick denunciation of the doom, which awaited the enemies of Christ, and Judas in particular : for the apostle has quoted one clause from the passage, with this remarkable introduction; " This scripture " must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost, " by the mouth of David, spake before concerning Judas, " &c." (8. Notes, Acts 1:16-22.) The inspired historian gives the exact words from the Septuagint, which iranslates the wliole as an imprecation. Indeed the first verb is the only one, which necessarily requires this construction, being literally rendered, " Set thou; " whereas all the other verbs are in the future and may be rendered as prophecies. Yet the first verb, being imperative, and the passage being so quoted in the Acts from the Septuagint, seem to imply, that sentence was prophetically denounced against the criminal or criminals, and not merely the event foretold. If David intended not only to predict, but to imprecate, the vengeance of God on apostate Ahithophel and his impenitent foes, as the first word seems to imply; it should be remembered, that " the Spirit of God spake by " him; " taking occasion from his circumstances to predict, in this alarming manner, the miseries which would come on the enemies of the Messiah. But, unless we were under the same influence, the example is not suited for our imitation : and we ought by no means to adopt the words with reference to our own enemies. Yet there can be no mpropriety in reading or singing the Psalm , as the sentence of our Judge on his implacable opposers and blasphemers, for a solemn warning to all who hear it; any more than in reading the latter part of the twenty-fifth chapter of St. Matthew , or the curses contained in the twenty-seventh, twenty-eighth, and twenty-ninth chapters of Deuteronomy. (Note, Deuteronomy 27:15.) We may apply the whole passage to Judas, who ungratefully and basely sold Jesus to his enemies. He was left to become the servant to a most wicked and cruel master, when he hired himself to Caiaphas, as the head of the Sanhedrim, who treated his remorse of conscience with such contempt, as helped to hurry him into desperation; his tempter " Satan " stood at his right hand " as his accuser, and urged him to suicide; he has ever since been considered as a guilty wretch by almost every body; he was expressly condemned by the Lord Jesus himself; (Note, Matthew 26:21-24;) his prayers were mere form and hypocrisy, and not the language of true repentance and faith, so that they aggravated his guilt; his days were few, and another was chosen to succeed to his apostleship. (Note, Acts 1:20-26.) Probably he left a widow and fatherless children, on whom infamy and distress were entailed, in the righteous providence of God, till the family was extinct; and thus the sins cf his progenitors, which he imitated, but far exceeded, were visited upon him and his descendants, in a remarkable manner. By betraying Christ, he refused his blessing, and avowed that he would not follow him in doing good, preferring a curse and mischief; and Hebrews , as it were, clothed himself with malevolence and treachery : the blessing of God would therefore be removed far from him; and his curse would cover and cleave to him as a garment, confine him as a girdle, enter into his bowels as water, and insinuate into his bones as oil; that Isaiah , it would be his only and his everlasting portion. The verses may also be applied to the Jewish nation; who, having rejected and crucified Christ, were given up to be tyrannized over by one usurper after another, and to be infatuated by Satan in an unheard of manner. Under the divine condemnation, for their obstinate unbelief, their hypocritical religion only added to their guilt, by rendering them more proud, bigotted, and furious in persecuting the Christians. Their civil and ecclesiastical state expired within forty years from the death of Christ, and their peculiar privileges were trans- ferred to the Gentile converts. At the destruction of Jerusalem immense multitudes were slain; their widows and orphans were left to penury and misery; and their posterity have ever since been dispersed as vagabonds, and preyed upon by extortion and oppression, in almost every land : their name has been, as it were, expunged from the records of the church; all the iniquities of the nation, from its origin, were visited on that and the succeeding generations; and the horrible imprecation, " His blood " be on us and on our children," which the enraged persecutors of Christ uttered against themselves and their posterity, has been as awfully fulfilled.

(Notes, Deuteronomy 28:15-18; Deuteronomy 29:18-28. Matthew 23:34-36; Matthew 27:24-25. 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16.) The whole may also be applied to all the enemies of Christ and his church, in every age and nation. (Marg. Ref.)

The extortioner. (11) Or rather creditor. " Let his creditor (pretending a judgment,) seize on all his estate; and a stranger by that means reap the fruit of all his care " and labour." Bp. Patrick.

Might slay the broken in Iteart. (16) Notes, Psalm 69:22-28, Psalm 5:2-6. Job 6:14. " They " (the Jews) " 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. How long will it be ere the brethren of this most innocent and most injured " Joseph, " say one to another, We are verily guilty con-

" " cerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his " " soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear : " " THEREFORE is this distress come upon us ! " Genesis 42:21." Bp. Home. (Note, Zechariah 12:9-14.)

V:21. O GOD the Lord,] Or, JEHOVAH my Lord. For thy name"s sake.] " As thou art named merciful, and " gracious, and long-suffering; so shew thyself in effect." (Note, Exodus 34:5-7 In a H respects glorify thy name, in delivering me.

V:22- 24. David, when driven from his palace and city, and out of Judah; and when compelled to depend on a few loyal subjects for sustenance; was at least as poor, as during his persecutions by Saul : and his heart was far more deeply " wounded within him," both in contrition and self-abasement, and by anguish of spirit. (16. Notes, 2 Samuel 15:24-30; 2 Samuel 16:1-14; 2 Samuel 17:27-29.)

Being advanced in years, he considered himself as " a " shadow that declineth," towards the sun-set : and not having a settled home, but wandering from place to place, according to the tidings brought him of the conspirators; he resembled the locust, which is driven by the wind to east or west, without being able to keep any settled course. (Notes, Exodus 10:13-19. Joel 2:18-20.) And besides fasting, in humbling himself before God, and through sorrow of heart, he wanted often suitable provision; and thus he grew feeble and emaciated. But the poverty and sorrow of the Saviour, " who had not where to lay his head; " and all the events of his life, especially from his fasting in the wilderness, to the close of his sufferings on the cross; are most emphatically described.

(Marg. Ref. Note, 2 Corinthians 8:6-9.)

V:25. Marg. Ref. Notes, Psalm 22:7-8. Psalm 31:10-13. Psalm 35:15-16. Matthew 27:39-44.

V:26 , 27. When God restored David to the throne in peace and honour; his hand was manifest in the surprising change, and his enemies were appalled and silenced. But when Christ was raised from the grave, and exalted to the right hand of the majesty in the heavens, and when the Holy Spirit was in consequence poured out on his apostles and disciples; the power of God was displayed to the conviction of millions, in that and future ages, that the whole was his work, and that he alone had done it.

(Marg. Ref. Notes, Matthew 12:38-40. Acts 2:33-36; Acts 3:12-16; Acts 4:5-12. Hebrews 2:1-4; Hebrews 5:4.)

V:28- 30. " They will curse, but thou wilt bless. " They shall be ashamed; but thy servant shall rejoice. " Mine adversaries shall be clothed with shame. They " shall cover themselves with their own confusion as with " a mantle. I will greatly praise the LORD, &c." The whole is future in the original : and the language of assured faith and hope, or of perfect foreknowledge, in the depth of distress, is more suited to the case, both of the type and Antitype, as well as more animated, than that of supplication.

(Marg. Ref. Notes, Psalm 22:22-24; Psalm 40:13-16; Psalm 69:29-32.) They," (the disciples of Jesus) hall be blessed, and enter by thousands and millions into the joy of their Lord," in that day when his crucifiers shall have no " covering," but their own " shame " " and confusion." " Bp. Home.

V:31. Notes, Exodus 5:1-23; Exodus 6:1-30. Proverbs 22:22-23. 2 Timothy 4:16-18

PRACTICAL OBSERVATIONS.

Our incarnate Redeemer willingly became poor, and submitted to pain and suffering, for our sakes, to atone for our sins and effect our salvation : and when we consider, that the gifts, which his hands bestow, were purchased by " his heart being wounded within him," by his " being " wasted as a shadow, and driven about as a locust " in the wind, and by " his knees being weak with fastings; " we should place the higher value on them, and express the more gratitude to him. Those wicked men, who spread slanders, and uttered blasphemies against him; who " compassed him about with words of hatred, and fought " against him without a cause; " who were his adversaries because of his love to sinners, and rewarded him evil for good; did indeed fulfil the predictions of the scriptures, and the divine decrees : but as they were actuated by the most diabolical enmity to God and holiness, they exposed themselves to the most awful vengeance. (Notes, Acts 2:22-24; Acts 4:23-28.) If then we in any measure bear the image and seek the honour of Christ, we must expect to be hated by persons of the same character; and must stand prepared to bear their malice, slanders, treachery, injustice, and ingratitude, with firmness, patience, and meekness; " considering him who endured the contradiction of sinners against himself," (Note, Hebrews 12:2-3;) and " giving ourselves unto prayer." And if we duly estimate our obligations to the Redeemer, we shall not be reluctant to suffer for his sake and according to his will; whether he be pleased to prove us by poetry, sickness, persecution, or self-denying labours. In all our trials we should call upon the Lord, as " the God of our praise," in whom we glory, and whom we delight to worship : we should beg of him to deliver us " for his own name"s " sake," and according to his abundant mercy, that his hand may appear and be glorified. We need not regard the malicious imprecations of ungodly men : though they curse, he will bless those who trust in him, and they will rejoice when their enemies shall be covered with confusion : for God will plead the cause of those who honour him by their animated praises; he will rebuke Satan, and even accuser, and " save them from those who would condemn " their souls." We must persevere in " blessing those " who curse us," and in endeavouring to " overcome evil " with good." Yet, in the case of Judas and the unbelieving Jews, the enemies of Christ and his people may read their own doom, if they continue impenitent. No language can express the miseries which are coming upon them, where there will be no remedy, no help, no mercy : for what are all the temporal afflictions, which can befall us or our descendants, compared with the everlasting wrath of God ? Indeed enmity against Christ is likely to entail infamy and misery upon a man"s family through successive generations : and those, who shew no mercy to the poor, especially to his needy and broken-hearted people, but treat them with insult and cruelty, must expect no mercy from God. Nay, when men reject the salvation of Christ, their very prayers are numbered among their sins. Satan will be permitted to tempt, to tyrannize over, to accuse, and to torment them; and their condemnation and ruin will be inevitable and sudden. In rejecting Christ, they refuse " the blessing, and it will be far from them; " the curse of the broken law is eventually their choice and their portion : all the blasphemous expressions, which they employ against the truths and professors of the gospel, and all the imprecations which they liberally bestow on those who offend or differ from them, will rebound upon themselves, and enhance their condemnation and misery. This will be the reward of all the adversaries of Christ, and of all who revile and hate his people. Let sinners then take warning, and flee for refuge to the great Redeemer : let those, who have employed their tongues in cursing and profaneness, fear and tremble, lest their multiplied imprecations should come upon themselves : let all opposers of the gospel be persuaded to cease from their ruinous attempts : and let all the Lord"s poor and afflicted people rejoice in him. and greatly praise his holy name.

 


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Bibliography Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 109:4". Thomas Scott: Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsp/psalms-109.html. 1804.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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