Psalms 64

PSALM LXIV

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.

Verse 1. 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.

Verse 2. 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

Ps 6:3; 14:4; 36:12; 53:4; 59:2.

Verse 3. 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.

Verse 4. That they may shoot in secret] They lurk, that they may

take their aim the more surely, and not miss their mark.

Suddenly] When there is no fear apprehended, because none is

seen.

Verse 5. They commune of laying snares] They lay snares to

entrap those whom they cannot slay by open attack or private

ambush.

Verse 6. 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.

Verse 7. 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. 1Sa 31:3.

Verse 8. Their own tongue to fall upon them-selves] All the

plottings, counsels, and curses, they have formed against me,

shall come upon themselves.

Verse 9. 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,

Verse 10. 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,

Ps 64:1, 2.

II. Complains of his enemies, who are described by their inward

devices, and outward conduct, Ps 64:3-6.

III. He foretells their ruin, and the consequences, Ps 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," &c., Ps 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," &c.

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, &c.

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.

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