|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:9-18 Here again is shown that all mankind are under the guilt of sin, as a burden; and under the government and dominion of sin, as enslaved to it, to work wickedness. This is made plain by several passages of Scripture from the Old Testament, which describe the corrupt and depraved state of all men, till grace restrain or change them. Great as our advantages are, these texts describe multitudes who call themselves Christians. Their principles and conduct prove that there is no fear of God before their eyes. And where no fear of God is, no good is to be looked for.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Their throat is an open sepulchre,.... The several vices of the instruments of speech are here, and in the following verse, exposed: "the throat" is said to "be an open sepulchre", as in Psalm 5:9, so called, for its voracity and insatiableness; both as an instrument of speech, for the words of the wicked are devouring ones; and as an instrument of swallowing, and so may denote the sinner's eager desire after sin, the delight and pleasure he takes in it, the abundance of it he takes in, and his insatiable greediness for it; likewise for its filthy stench, the communication of evil men being corrupt; and because, as by an open grave, persons may fall unawares to their hurt, so the evil communications of wicked men, as they corrupt good manners, are dangerous and hurtful: R. Aben Ezra explains it by , "immediate destruction", or sudden death:
with their tongues they have used deceit; which may design the sin of flattery, for the words in Psalm 5:9; the place referred to, are, "they flatter with their tongue"; either God or men, themselves or others, their princes or their neighbour; for there are flatterers in things sacred and civil, there are self-flatterers, court flatterers, and flattering preachers, and all abominable and mischievous; or the phrase may design the sin of lying, either politically, officiously, perniciously, and religiously; and in this latter way, either with respect to doctrine or practice:
the poison of asps is under their lips; or as in Psalm 140:3, "adders' poison is under their lips". The asp is but a small creature, and so is the tongue, James 3:5, but there is a world of mischief in it, signified by poison; which, as that, is latent and secret, is under it; and as that stupefies and kills insensibly, so an evil tongue does, and that in a deadly and incurable manner: oftentimes the Jews speak of the evil imagination, or corruption of nature entering into persons, and operating in them, "as poison in an angry serpent" (w).
(w) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 62. 2. Yoma, fol. 9. 2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
13-18. Their, &c.—From generals, the apostle here comes to particulars, culling from different parts of Scripture passages which speak of depravity as it affects the different members of the body; as if to show more affectingly how "from the sole of the foot even to the head there is no soundness" in us.
throat is an open sepulchre—(Ps 5:9); that is, "What proceeds out of their heart, and finds vent in speech and action through the throat, is like the pestilential breath of an open grave."
with their tongues they have used deceit—(Ps 5:9); that is, "That tongue which is man's glory (Ps 16:9; 57:8) is prostituted to the purposes of deception."
the poison of asps is under their lips—(Ps 140:3): that is, "Those lips which should 'drop as an honeycomb,' and 'feed many,' and 'give thanks unto His name' (So 4:11; Pr 10:21; Heb 13:15), are employed to secrete and to dart deadly poison."
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