|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
140:8-13 Believers may pray that God would not grant the desires of the wicked, nor further their evil devices. False accusers will bring mischief upon themselves, even the burning coals of Divine vengeance. And surely the righteous shall dwell in God's presence, and give him thanks for evermore. This is true thanksgiving, even thanks-living: this use we should make of all our deliverances, we should serve God the more closely and cheerfully. Those who, though evil spoken of and ill-used by men, are righteous in the sight of God, being justified by the righteousness of Christ, which is imputed to them, and received by faith, as the effect of which, they live soberly and righteously; these give thanks to the Lord, for the righteousness whereby they are made righteous, and for every blessing of grace, and mercy of life.
Verse 9 - As for the head of those that compass me about. The "head" of David's enemies is put in contrast with his own "head" (see ver. 7). While God shields and protects his head, theirs has no protection, but the mischief of their own lips which covers them, but with confusion, rather than with defense or safety.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
As for the head of those that compass me about, let the,
mischief of their own lips cover them. Meaning either their natural head, put for their whole persons; and the sense is, let the mischief they have contrived for others fall upon themselves; see Ezekiel 9:10, Psalm 7:16; or some principal person, the head and leader of them, as the word is sometimes used, Isaiah 9:14; and designs either Saul, who at the head of three thousand men surrounded the hill where David and his men were; or Doeg the Edomite, who was over the servants of Saul, and accused David to him; so Kimchi: or Ahithophel, who was at the head of the conspirators against him; so the Targum paraphrases it,
"Ahithophel, the head of the sanhedrim of the disciples of wickedness.''
If we understand this clause of Christ, the antitype of David, it may design Judas; who was the guide to them that sought Jesus, and, at the head of a band of men, enclosed and took him: or if of the church and people of God, the man of sin may be intended, the pope of Rome; the head over many countries, the antichristian nations, Psalm 110:6. The word is used of the gall and poison of asps, Job 20:14; and if so taken here, as Arama interprets it, it will make the sense agree with Psalm 140:3; and may be read in connection with the following clause, thus: "let the poison of those that compass me about, even the mischief of their lips, cover them" (o); or the labour of them (p): let the lies and calumnies they have so industriously spread, and took so much pains to propagate to the hurt of others, like deadly poison, cover them with shame and confusion; and the mischief they have boasted of, and gave out that they would do, let it come upon them on all sides, and utterly ruin and destroy them.
(o) So Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (p) "labor labiorum eorum", Montanus, Gejerus, Michaelis.
The Treasury of David
9 As for the head of those that compass me about, let the mischief of their own lips cover them.
10 Let burning coals fall upon them; let them be cast into the fire; into deep pits, that they rise not up again.
11 Let not an evil speaker be established in the earth, evil shall hunt the violent man to overthrow him.
"As for the head of those that compass me about, let the mischief of their own lips cover them." To the Lord who had covered his head amid the din of arms the Psalmist appeals against his foes, that their heads may be covered in quite another sense - covered with the reward of their own malice. David's foes were so many that they hemmed him in, encircling him as hunters do their prey. It is little wonder that he turns to the Lord in his dire need. The poet represents his adversaries as so united as to have but one head; for there is often a unanimity among evil spirits which makes them the more strong and terrible for their vile purposes. The lex talionis, or law of retaliation, often brings down upon violent men the evil which they planned and spoke of for others: their arrows fall upon themselves. When a man's lips vent curses they will probably, like chickens, come home to roost. A stone hurled upward into the air is apt to fall upon the thrower's head.
David's words may be read in the future as a prophecy; but in this verse, at any rate, there is no need to do so in order to soften their tone. It is so just that the mischief which men plot and the slander which they speak should recoil upon themselves that every righteous man must desire it: he who does not desire it may wish to be considered humane and Christlike, but the chances are that he has a sneaking agreement with the wicked, or is deficient in a manly sense of right and wrong. When evil men fall into pits which they have digged for the innocent we believe that even the angels are glad; certainly the most gentle and tender of philanthropists, however much they pity the sufferers, must also approve the justice which makes them suffer. We suspect that some of our excessively soft-spoken critics only need to be put into David's place, and they would become a vast deal more bitter than he ever was.
"Let burning coals fall upon them." Then will they know that the scattering of the firebrands is not the sport they thought it to be. When hailstones and coals of fire descend upon them, how will they escape? Even the skies above the wicked are able to deal out vengeance upon them. "Let them be cast into the fire." They have kindled the flames of strife, and it is fair that they should be cast therein. They have heated the furnace of slander seven times hotter than it was wont to be heated, and they shall be devoured therein. Who would have pitied Nebuchadnezzar if he had been thrown into his own burning fiery furnace? "Into deep pits, that they rise not up again." They made those ditches or fosses for the godly, and it is meet that they should themselves fall into them and never escape. When a righteous man falls he rises again; but when the wicked man goes down "he falls like Lucifer, never to hope again." The Psalmist in this passage graphically depicts the Sodom of the wicked persecutor: fire falls upon him from heaven; the city blazes, and he is east into the conflagration; the vale of Siddim is full of slime-pits, and into these he is buried. Extraordinary judgment overtakes the extraordinary offender: above, around, beneath, all is destruction. He would have consumed the righteous, and now he is consumed himself. So shall it be: so let it be.
"Let not an evil speaker be established in the earth." For that would be an established plague, a perpetual curse. Men of false and cruel tongues are of most use when they go to fatten the soil in which they rot as carcasses: while they are alive they are the terror of the good, and the torment of the poor. God will not allow the specious orators of falsehood to retain the power they temporarily obtain by their deceitful speaking. They may become prominent, but they cannot become permanent. They shall be disendowed and disestablished in spite of all that they can say to the contrary. All evil bears the element of decay within itself; for what is it but corruption? Hence the utmost powers of oratory are insufficient to settle upon a sure foundation the cause which bears a lie within it. "Evil shall hunt the violent man to overthrow him." He hunted the good, and now his own evil shall hunt him. He tried to overthrow the goings of the righteous, and now his own unrighteousness shall prove his overthrow. As he was violent, so shall he be violently assaulted and hunted down. Sin is its own punishment; a violent man will need no direr doom than to reap what he has sown. It is horrible for a huntsman to be devoured by his own hounds; yet this is the sure fate of the persecutor.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
9. Contrasts his head covered by God (Ps 140:7) with theirs, or (as "head" may be used for "persons") with them, covered with the results of their wicked deeds (Ps 7:16).
Psalm 140:9 Parallel Commentaries
Psalm 140:9 NIV
Psalm 140:9 NLT
Psalm 140:9 ESV
Psalm 140:9 NASB
Psalm 140:9 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible