Matthew Henry Complete CommentaryPsalms 64
on the Whole Bible
This whole psalm has reference to David's enemies, persecutors, and
slanderers; many such there were, and a great deal of trouble they gave
him, almost all his days, so that we need not guess at any particular
occasion of penning this psalm.
I. He prays to God to preserve him from their malicious designs against
II. He gives a very bad character of them, as men marked for ruin by
their own wickedness,
III. By the spirit of prophecy he foretels their destruction, which
would redound to the glory of God and the encouragement of his people,
In singing this psalm we must observe the effect of the old enmity that
is in the seed of the woman against the seed of the serpent, and assure
ourselves that the serpent's head will be broken, at last, to the
honour and joy of the holy seed.
|Malice of David's Enemies.
To the chief musician. A psalm of David.
1 Hear my voice, O
God, in my prayer: preserve my life from fear of the enemy.
2 Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked; from the
insurrection of the workers of iniquity:
3 Who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to
shoot their arrows, even bitter words:
4 That they may shoot in secret at the perfect: suddenly do
they shoot at him, and fear not.
5 They encourage themselves in an evil matter: they commune
of laying snares privily; they say, Who shall see them?
6 They search out iniquities; they accomplish a diligent
search: both the inward thought of every one of them, and the
heart, is deep.
David, in these verses, puts in before God a representation of his own
danger and of his enemies' character, to enforce his petition that God
would protect him and punish them.
I. He earnestly begs of God to preserve him
Hear my voice, O God! in my prayer; that is, grant me the thing
I pray for, and this is it, Lord, preserve my life from fear of the
enemy, that is, fro the enemy that I am in fear of. He makes
request for his life, which is, in a particular manner, dear to him,
because he knows it is designed to be very serviceable to God and his
generation. When his life is struck at it cannot be thought he should
altogether hold his peace,
And, if he plead his fear of the enemy, it is no disparagement to his
courage; his father Jacob, that prince with God, did so before him.
Deliver me from the hand of Esau, for I fear him. Preserve my life
from fear, not only from the thing itself which I fear, but from
the disquieting fear of it; this is, in effect, the preservation of the
life, for fear has torment, particularly the fear of death, by reason
of which some are all their life-time subject to bondage. He prays,
"Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked, from the
mischief which they secretly consult among themselves to do against me,
and from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity, who join
forces, as they join counsels, to do me a mischief." Observe, The
secret counsel ends in an insurrection; treasonable practices begin in
treasonable confederacies and conspiracies. "Hide me from them, that
they may not find me, that they may not reach me. Let me be safe under
II. He complains of the great malice and wickedness of his enemies:
"Lord, hide me from them, for they are the worst of men, not fit to be
connived at; they are dangerous men, that will stick at nothing; so
that I am undone if thou do not take my part."
1. They are very spiteful in their calumnies and reproaches,
They are described as military men, with their sword and bow, archers
that take aim exactly, secretly, and suddenly, and shoot at the
harmless bird that apprehends not herself in any danger. But,
(1.) Their tongues are their swords, flaming swords, two-edged swords,
drawn swords, drawn in anger, with which they cut, and wound, and kill,
the good name of their neighbours. The tongue is a little member, but,
like the sword, it boasts great things,
It is a dangerous weapon.
(2.) Bitter words are their arrows--scurrilous
reflections, opprobrious nicknames, false representations, slanders,
and calumnies, the fiery darts of the wicked one, set on fire to hell.
For these their malice bends their bows, to send out these
arrows with so much the more force.
(3.) The upright man is their mark; against him their spleen is, and
they cannot speak peaceably either of him or to him. The better any man
is the more he is envied by those that are themselves bad, and the more
ill is said of him.
(4.) They manage it with a great deal of art and subtlety. They
shoot in secret, that those they shoot at may not discover them
and avoid the danger, for in vain is the net spread in the sight of
any bird. And suddenly do they shoot, without giving a man
lawful warning or any opportunity to defend himself. Cursed be he
that thus smites his neighbour secretly in his reputation,
There is no guard against a pass made by a false tongue.
(5.) Herein they fear not, that is, they are confident of their
success, and doubt not but by these methods they shall gain the point
which their malice aims at. Or, rather, they fear not the wrath of God,
which they will be the portion of a false tongue. They are impudent and
daring in the mischief they do to good people, as if they must never be
called to an account for it.
2. They are very close and very resolute in their malicious projects,
(1.) They strengthen and corroborate themselves and one another in this
evil matter, and by joining together in it they make one another the
more bitter and the more bold. Fortiter calumniari, aliquid
adhærebit--Lay on an abundance of reproach; part will be sure to
stick. It is bad to do a wrong thing, but worse to encourage
ourselves and one another in doing it; this is doing the devil's work
for him. It is a sign that the heart is hardened to the highest degree
when it is thus fully set to do evil and fears no colours. It is the
office of conscience to discourage men in an evil matter, but, when
that is baffled, the case is desperate.
(2.) They consult with themselves and one another how to do the most
mischief and most effectually: They commune of laying snares
privily. All their communion is in sin and all their communication
is how to sin securely. They hold councils of war for finding out the
most effectual expedients to do mischief; every snare they lay was
talked of before, and was laid with all the contrivance of their wicked
(3.) They please themselves with an atheistical conceit that God
himself takes no notice of their wicked practices: They say, Who
shall see them? A practical disbelief of God's omniscience is at
the bottom of all the wickedness of the wicked.
3. They are very industrious in putting their projects in execution
"They search out iniquity; they take a great deal of pains to
find out some iniquity or other to lay to my charge; they dig deep, and
look far back, and put things to the utmost stretch, that they may have
something to accuse me of;" or, "They are industrious to find out new
arts of doing mischief to me; in this they accomplish a diligent
search; they go through with it, and spare neither cost nor labour."
Evil men dig up mischief. Half the pains that many take to damn
their souls would serve to save them. They are masters of all the arts
of mischief and destruction, for the inward thought of every one of
them, and the heart, are keep, deep as hell, desperately wicked,
who can know it? By the unaccountable wickedness of their wit and of
their will, they show themselves to be, both in subtlety and malignity,
the genuine offspring of the old serpent.
|God's Judgments on Persecutors.
7 But God shall shoot at them with an arrow; suddenly shall
they be wounded.
8 So they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves:
all that see them shall flee away.
9 And all men shall fear, and shall declare the work of God;
for they shall wisely consider of his doing.
10 The righteous shall be glad in the LORD, and shall trust in
him; and all the upright in heart shall glory.
We may observe here,
I. The judgments of God which should certainly come upon these
malicious persecutors of David. Though they encouraged themselves in
their wickedness, here is that which, if they would believe and
consider it, was enough to discourage them. And it is observable how
the punishment answers the sin.
1. They shot at David secretly and suddenly, to wound him; but God
shall shoot at them, for the ordains his arrows against the
against the face of them,
And God's arrows will hit surer, and fly swifter, and pierce deeper,
than theirs do or can. They have many arrows, but they are only bitter
words, and words are but wind: the curse causeless shall not come. But
God has one arrow that will be their death, his curse which is never
causeless, and therefore shall come; with it they shall be suddenly
wounded, that is, their wound by it will be a surprise upon them,
because they were secure and not apprehensive of any danger.
2. Their tongues fell upon him, but God shall make their tongues to
fall upon themselves. They do it by the desert of their sin; God
does it by the justice of his wrath,
When God deals with men according to the desert of their tongue-sins,
and brings those mischiefs upon them which they have passionately and
maliciously imprecated upon others, then he makes their own tongues to
fall upon them; and it is weight enough to sink a man to the lowest
hell, like a talent of lead. Many have cut their own throats, and many
more have damned their own souls, with their tongues, and it will be an
aggravation of their condemnation. O Israel! thou hast destroyed
thyself, art snared in the words of thy mouth. If thou scornest,
thou alone shalt bear it. Those that love cursing, it shall come
unto them. Sometimes men's secret wickedness is brought to light by
their own confession, and then their own tongue falls upon them.
II. The influence which these judgments should have upon others; for it
is done in the open sight of all,
1. Their neighbours shall shun them and shift for their own safety.
They shall flee away, as the men of Israel did from the tents of
Korah, Dathan, and Abiram,
Some think this was fulfilled in the death of Saul, when not only his
army was dispersed, but the inhabitants of the neighbouring country
were so terrified with the fall, not only of their king but of his
three sons, that they quitted their cities and fled,
1 Samuel 31:7.
2. Spectators shall reverence the providence of God therein,
(1.) They shall understand and observe God's hand in all (and, unless
we do so, we are not likely to profit by the dispensations of
They shall wisely consider his doing. There is need of
consideration and serious thought rightly to apprehend the matter of
fact, and need of wisdom to put a true interpretation upon it. God's
doing is well worth our considering
but it must be considered wisely, that we put not a corrupt gloss upon
a pure text.
(2.) They shall be affected with a holy awe of God upon the
consideration of it. All men (all that have any thing of the reason of
a man in them) shall fear and tremble because of God's judgments,
They shall fear to do the like, fear being found persecutors of God's
people. Smite the scorner and the simple shall beware.
(3.) They shall declare the work of God. They shall speak to one
another and to all about them of the justice of God in punishing
persecutors. What we wisely consider ourselves we should wisely declare
to others, for their edification and the glory of God. This is the
finger of God.
3. Good people shall in a special manner take notice of it, and it
shall affect them with a holy pleasure,
(1.) It shall increase their joy: The righteous shall be glad in the
Lord, not glad of the misery and ruin of their fellow-creatures,
but glad that God is glorified, and his word fulfilled, and the cause
of injured innocency pleaded effectually.
(2.) It shall encourage their faith. They shall commit themselves to
him in the way of duty and be willing to venture for him with an entire
confidence in him.
(3.) Their joy and faith shall both express themselves in a holy
boasting: All the upright in heart, that keep a good conscience
and approve themselves to God, shall glory, not in themselves,
but in the favour of God, in his righteousness and goodness, their
relation to him and interest in him. Let him that glories glory in