Matthew Poole's Commentary
To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. Hold not thy peace, O God of my praise;THE ARGUMENT
It is sufficiently evident from the body of this Psalm, that it was composed by David when he was in a state of persecution, either by Saul or by Absalom; and that amongst and above all the rest of his enemies he takes very particular notice of, and breaks forth into vehement expressions of anger against one particular person which whether it were Doeg or Ahithophel is not certain, nor at all necessary to know. But as David was, and very well knew himself to be, a type of Christ, and consequently his enemies did typify or represent the enemies of Christ, and this particular adversary of his did represent some singular and eminent enemy of Christ, which though David might not, yet the Spirit of God which indited this Psalm did, know to be Judas, and accordingly directed all these bitter invectives and imprecations against him, who deserved and received far worse punishments for his monstrous wickedness than all which are here mentioned. And that he was the person principally aimed at in this Psalm, will seem very probable to him who considers David’s mild and merciful temper even towards his enemies, which he both professed in words in this very book, as Psalm 35:12,14, and practised in deeds, as 2 Samuel 16:10,11 19:22,23, and withal the severity of these imprecations, reaching not only to the persons of his enemies but to their children, who yet by the law of God were not to suffer for their parents’ sins, Deu 24:16.
David, complaining of his false accusers, who requited him evil for good, devoteth them and their children to all misery and oblivion, Psalm 109:1-15, because of their unmercifulness and cruelty, Psalm 109:16-20; showeth his great affliction, prayeth for deliverance, and promiseth thankfulness, Psalm 109:21-31.
Hold not thy peace; do not neglect me, but take notice of my extreme danger and misery, and deliver me, which thou canst do by the speaking of one word. O God of my praise; the author and matter of all my praises; who hast given me continual occasion to praise thee, whom I have used to praise, and will praise whilst I live; do not therefore now give me occasion to turn my praises into lamentations.
For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me: they have spoken against me with a lying tongue.Of the deceitful; of those who add hypocrisy and perfidiousness to their malice.
Are opened; they speak freely, boldly, and publicly, without any fear or shame.
Against me; or, to or with me, as this particle commonly signifies.
With a lying tongue; either,
1. With calumnies, or false and malicious reports. Or,
2. With deep dissimulation and professions of friendship and kindness.
They compassed me about also with words of hatred; and fought against me without a cause.Words of hatred; which, though covered with specious pretences, proceeded from deep malice and hatred, and were designed to work my destruction.
Without a cause; without any just provocation given them by me.
For my love they are my adversaries: but I give myself unto prayer.For my love they are my adversaries; they requite my love and good will with enmity and mischief, as it is explained, Psalm 109:5.
But I give myself unto prayer, Heb. but I prayer, i.e. I am a man of prayer, or I betake myself to prayer. Thus I peace is put for I am for peace, as we render it, Psalm 120:7; and thy bread for the men of thy bread, or that eat thy bread, Ob 7. The sense is, Whilst they reproach and curse me, I pray either,
1. For them, as he did, Psalm 35:13; or,
2. For myself: I did not render unto them evil for evil, but quietly committed myself and my cause to God by prayer, desiring him to plead my cause against them; and I had no other refuge.
And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love.No text from Poole on this verse.
Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand.A wicked man, Heb. the wicked; which may be understood either,
1. Of some wicked tyrant, which may rule him with rigour and cruelty. Or,
2. Of Satan, who is mentioned in the next clause. Let him be delivered over to Satan, to be acted and ruled by him at his pleasure. Over him; either,
1. All mine enemies; for the singular number is sometimes used in like manner. Or rather,
2. One particular enemy, who was worse than any of the rest, more implacable and inexcusable, whom he thought not fit to express by name, nor was it in the least necessary to do so, because he was. speaking to God, who knew his thoughts, and whom he meant.
Stand at his right hand; either,
1. To molest and vex him, and hinder him in all his affairs; for the right hand is the great instrument of action. Or rather,
2. To accuse him; for this was the place and posture of accusers in the Jewish courts. And as for his condemnation, which is the consequence of this accusation, that follows in the next verse.
When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer become sin.When he shall be judged; when he shall be called to an account, and his cause examined before thy tribunal.
Let his prayer become sin, i.e. be turned into sin, or be imputed to him as his sin, or be as unavailable with God for his relief as his sins. When he makes supplication to his Judge, as Job speaks, Job 9:15, for pity and pardon, let him be the more provoked and enraged by it.
Let his days be few; and let another take his office.Let his days be few; the days of his life. Let him die an untimely death.
His office, made void by his death. He also implies that his enemy was a man of power and reputation.
Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.Fatherless; whilst they are but children, and so unable to provide for themselves.
A widow; either made a widow by his death; or constantly a widow; all persons abhorring her who was related to so vile a miscreant.
Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places.Vagabonds; having no certain place of abode; which is a grievous curse in itself, Genesis 4:12,14 Isa 16:2.
And beg: this increaseth their misery.
Desolate places; into which they are fled for fear and shame, as not daring to show their faces amongst men.
Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let the strangers spoil his labour.Extortioner; or, usurer, or creditor. Catch, Heb. insnare, which is an emphatical expression, i.e. take away not only by oppression and violence, but also by cheats and cunning artifices, whereby such persons entangle, and so ruin their debtors.
The strangers; who have no right to his goods, and will use no pity nor measure in spoiling him.
His labour; all the fruits of his labours.
Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any to favour his fatherless children.Let him and his be unpitied and hated as the public enemies of mankind.
Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out.In the generation following, Heb. in another generation; either in the third generation, or in the second, or that which next followed the generation of his fathers. So in this clause he limits the time of that destruction which he imprecates or foretells in the former.
Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered with the LORD; and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out.Be remembered against him, or punished in him, as God hath threatened to deal with great delinquents, Exodus 20:5.
Let them be before the LORD continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth.Let them, the sins of his parents last mentioned, be before Lord; in God’s sight and memory, to provoke God them: let them not be covered or pardoned.
Because that he remembered not to shew mercy, but persecuted the poor and needy man, that he might even slay the broken in heart.Remembered not his duty to God, and his obligation to me my former kindness, expressed Psalm 109:4,5.
The poor and needy man; myself, who was desolate and miserable, whose required pity, and not additions of cruelty.
The broken in heart; whose spirit was grieved, and even broken the burden of his calamities.
As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him: as he delighted not in blessing, so let it be far from him.Cursing; either,
1. Cursed or sinful courses. Or rather,
2. To curse others, as appears from the blessing here opposed to it, and from the next verse; to wish and to procure to others, and especially to me.
In blessing; in and promoting the welfare of others, which indeed an eye-sore and torment to him.
As he clothed himself with cursing like as with his garment, so let it come into his bowels like water, and like oil into his bones.A garment; which a man wears constantly, and that as
Like water; which when a man drinks, goes bowels, and searcheth all the inwards of his belly.
Like oil; which is more piercing than water, and being applied to outward parts, reacheth even to the bones and marrow
Let it be unto him as the garment which covereth him, and for a girdle wherewith he is girded continually.Which cleaves closer and faster to a man than a garment, than the Eastern garments did, which were large and loose.
Let this be the reward of mine adversaries from the LORD, and of them that speak evil against my soul.Of mine adversaries; of those who were confederate with that arch enemy in his wicked enterprise.
Against my soul; with design to take away my life.
But do thou for me, O GOD the Lord, for thy name's sake: because thy mercy is good, deliver thou me.Do thou for me, to wit, what I desire, which he expressing the next clause. Or, do thou act for me; be not or still, but stir up thyself to work on my behalf.
For my name’s sake; for the glory of thy faithfulness, which highly concerned in giving me the deliverance which thou hast promised to me.
Thy mercy is good, i.e. gracious, ready to do good to all, but especially to those that and fear thee. As sin is said to be sinful, Ro 7, so God’s mercy may be said to be merciful, to wit, in degree, and above the mercy of all the creatures
For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me.I am poor and needy; and therefore a very proper object for thy pity and help. I am wounded not slightly, but to the very heart with soul-piercing sorrows.
I am gone like the shadow when it declineth: I am tossed up and down as the locust.I am gone, Heb. I am made to go; either,
1. From place to place; which was David’s case, when he was persecuted by Saul and by Absalom; and Christ’s case upon earth, where he had no certain place
where to lay his head: Matthew 8:20. Or,
2. Into the grave, as this phrase is used, 1 Chronicles 17:11 Psalm 58:8, and oft elsewhere. Declineth; towards the evening, when, the sun setting, it vanisheth instantly, and irrecoverably, until the sun rise again, which it never will do to me in this world, when once I am gone out of it.
As the locust; which of itself is unstable, continually skipping from place to place, and is easily driven away with every wind; so am I exposed to perpetual and successive changes within myself, and to a thousand violences and mischiefs from other persons and things.
My knees are weak through fasting; and my flesh faileth of fatness.Through fasting; either with voluntary fasts, to which the frequency and long continuance of my calamities obliged me; or with forced fasts, sometimes through want of necessary provisions, but most commonly from that loathing of meat, which was occasioned by his excessive sorrows and terrors. See Poole "Psalm 58:8".
Of fatness; or, for want of fatness. See the like Hebrew phrases Genesis 18:26 Jeremiah 48:45 Lamentations 4:9.
I became also a reproach unto them: when they looked upon me they shaked their heads.Instead of that pity which either religion or humanity should have taught them to a man in extreme misery, they loaded me with reproaches and scorns.
Shaked their heads; a gesture of contempt and derision; of which see Job 16:4 Psalm 22:7.
Help me, O LORD my God: O save me according to thy mercy:No text from Poole on this verse.
That they may know that this is thy hand; that thou, LORD, hast done it.Know; being convinced of the eminency, and singularity, and strangeness of the work.
Let them curse, but bless thou: when they arise, let them be ashamed; but let thy servant rejoice.Let them curse; I can patiently bear their curses, as being causeless, and fully compensated by thy blessing. Or, they do and will curse, I expect nothing else from them.
Arise, i.e. bestir themselves against me. Both God and men are oft said to arise when they enter upon any undertaking, as Joshua 24:9 Judges 8:21 2 Chronicles 13:6 21:4, &c.
Let mine adversaries be clothed with shame, and let them cover themselves with their own confusion, as with a mantle.For the disappointment of their wicked hopes and designs, and for that unexpected destruction which they have brought upon themselves.
I will greatly praise the LORD with my mouth; yea, I will praise him among the multitude.For that deliverance which I confidently expect.
Among the multitude; or, among the mighty, or great men, as this word sometimes signifies. Compare Psalm 119:46.
For he shall stand at the right hand of the poor, to save him from those that condemn his soul.At the right hand of the poor, to defend him from his adversary, who stood in that place to accuse him, and to procure his condemnation and destruction. See Poole "Psalm 109:6".
That condemn his soul; that pass a sentence of death upon him.