The psalmist prays for preservation from the wicked, 1,2; whom he describes, 3-6; shows their punishment, 7,8; and the effect that this should have on the godly, 9,10.
NOTES ON PSALM LXIV
The title, To the chief Musician, or conqueror, A Psalm of David. The Syriac says, "composed by David when warned by Gad the prophet, who said, Stay not in Masrob, because Saul seeks thy life." Some think it was composed by David when he was persecuted by Saul; or during the rebellion of Absalom. But Calmet thinks it is a complaint of the captives in Babylon.
Hear my voice
The psalmist feared for his life, and the lives of his fellow-captives; and he sought help of God. He prayed, and he lifted up his voice; and thus showed his earnestness.
Hide me from the secret counsel
They plotted his destruction, and then formed insurrections in order to accomplish it.
Workers of iniquity
Those who made sin their labour, their daily employment; it was their occupation and trade. It is supposed that by this title the Babylonians are intended. See Psalms 6:3;; 14:4;; 36:12;; 53:4;; 59:2.
Who whet their tongue like a sword
They devise the evil they shall speak, and meditate on the most provoking, injurious, and defamatory words; as the soldier whets his sword that he may thereby the better cut down his enemies.
Their arrows-bitter words
Their defamatory sayings are here represented as deadly as poisoned arrows; for to such is the allusion here made.
That they may shoot in secret
They lurk, that they may take their aim the more surely, and not miss their mark.
When there is no fear apprehended, because none is seen.
They commune of laying snares
They lay snares to entrap those whom they cannot slay by open attack or private ambush.
They search out iniquities; they accomplish a diligent search
The word chaphash, which is used three times, as a noun and a verb, in this sentence, signifies to strip off the clothes. "They investigate iniquities; they perfectly investigate an investigation." Most energetically translated by the old Psalter: Thai ransaked wickednesses: thai failled ransakand in ransaking. To ransack signifies to search every corner, to examine things part by part, to turn over every leaf, to leave no hole or cranny unexplored. But the word investigate fully expresses the meaning of the term, as it comes either from in, taken privately, and vestire, to clothe, stripping the man bare, that he may be exposed to all shame, and be the more easily wounded; or from the word investigo, which may be derived from in, intensive, and vestigium, the footstep or track of man or beast. A metaphor from hunting the stag; as the slot, or mark of his foot, is diligently sought out, in order to find whither he is gone, and whether he is old or young, for huntsmen can determine the age by the slot. Tuberville, in his Treatise on Hunting, gives rules to form this judgment, To this the next verse seems to refer.
But God shall shoot at them with an arrow
They endeavour to trace me out, that they may shoot me; but God will shoot at them. This, if the Psalm refer to the times of David, seems to be prophetic of Saul's death. The archers pressed upon him, and sorely wounded him with their arrows. 1 Samuel 31:3.
Their own tongue to fall upon them-selves
All the plottings, counsels, and curses, they have formed against me, shall come upon themselves.
And all men shall fear
They endeavoured to hide their mischief; but God shall so punish them that all shall see it, and shall acknowledge in their chastisement the just judgment of God. The wicked, in consequence, shall fear, and,
The righteous shall be glad
They shall see that God does not abandon his followers to the malice of bad men. The rod of the wicked may come into the heritage of the just; but there it shall not rest. Calmet thinks that this is a prediction of the destruction of the Chaldeans, in consequence of which the Jewish people became highly respected by all the surrounding nations. But it may be applied more generally to the enmity of the wicked against the righteous, and how God counterworks their devices, and vindicates and supports his own followers.
ANALYSIS OF THE SIXTY-FOURTH PSALM
I. The psalmist, in danger, commends his cause to God, Psalms 64:1,2.
II. Complains of his enemies, who are described by their inward devices, and outward conduct, Psalms 64:3-6.
III. He foretells their ruin, and the consequences, Psalms 64:7-10.
I. 1. He prays in general: "Hear my voice."
2. Then in special, that his life may be safe: "Hide me from the secret counsel," Psalms 64:2.
He describes his enemies, generally:-
1. They were wicked men.
2. They were workers of iniquity.
3. They worked secret counsels against him.
4. They acted according to their counsels.
II. After this general character, he particularly describes their villany.
1. They were calumniators; no sword sharper than their tongue, no arrow swifter than their accusations.
They were diligent and active to wound his credit; and the evil of their conduct was aggravated by two circumstances: 1. It was in secret: 2. It was against the innocent and upright: "They whet their sword; and bend their bow, to shoot their arrows,"
2. They were obstinate and confirmed in mischief:-1. "They encourage themselves in an evil thing." 2. "They commune," lay their heads together how to lay snares,
3. They are impudent and atheistical: "They say, Who shall see them?"
4. They are indefatigable-they are carried on with an earnest desire to do mischief; they invent all crafty waits to circumvent the righteous.
5. All this they do subtly, craftily: "Both the inward thought and heart of them is deep;" it is not easy to find out their snares.
III. Now he foretells, 1. Their punishment; and, 2. The event.
1. Their punishment was to be hasty, sharp, deadly, and very just. 1. "God shall shoot at them with an arrow; suddenly shall they be wounded." 2. Most just. For they shall "make their own tongues fall upon themselves." By their tongues did they mischief; by their tongues shall they fall.
2. The event shall be double: 1. In general, to all; 2. In particular, to the righteous.
1. Universally: "All that see them shall flee away,"-fear, desert, forsake them.
2. All men "shall see and declare the work of the Lord, and consider it as his doing."
The effect it shall have on the righteous. They shall acknowledge God's justice; and farther,-
1. They shall be glad in the Lord-in the judgments he has shown.
2. They shall trust in him-that he will always protect and deliver them.
3. They shall glory-make their boast in God, and tell to all the wonders which in his justice and his mercy he has wrought for them.