Psalm 109:6
Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand.
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(6) Set thou a wicked man over him.—This rendering is abundantly confirmed by Leviticus 26:16; Numbers 4:27; Numbers 27:16; Jeremiah 15:3; Jeremiah 51:27, against Hitzig’s proposed “Pronounce against him—guilty,” which also would only anticipate Psalm 109:7. (Comp., too, the noun “office” in Psalm 109:8, from the same verb.) The wish expressed is that the persons indicated may fall into the hands of an unscrupulous judge. If, however, we are to think of the divine judgment, then this clause must be taken as exactly parallel to the next: “Appoint a wicked man against him.” Here the imprecatory part of the psalm begins, and it has been ingeniously argued that the whole of it (Psalm 109:6-20) is a quotation, giving, not the psalmist’s curse on his foes, but theirs on him. Such quotations, without any introductory words, are common, and the theory is tenable, but improbable.

Satan.—By no means here a proper name, though the LXX. and Vulg. have diabolus. The use of the same word in Psalm 109:4; Psalm 109:20; Psalm 109:29 is decisive on giving it the general meaning, “adversary” (as in margin) here; even though without the article. Satan is used for the tempting angel in 1Chronicles 21:1, and in Zechariah 3:1 we find the same post, “at the right hand,” assigned to the accuser. An unscrupulous judge and an adversary as accuser, these are the substance of this imprecation.

Psalm 109:6-7. Set thou a wicked man over him — Either over all his enemies, speaking of them collectively, or over some one particular enemy, who was worse than any of the rest, more implacable and inexcusable, whom he did not think proper to name. Set a wicked man over him to be as cruel and oppressive to him as he hath been to others; for God often makes one wicked man a scourge to another. Hebrew, רשׁע, the wicked, or the wicked one; namely, Satan, who is mentioned in the next clause. Let him be, or he shall be, delivered into the power of Satan, to be influenced and ruled by him at his pleasure. Let Satan stand — Hebrew, ושׂשׂן יעמד, and Satan, or the adversary, as the word means, shall stand at his right hand — To molest and vex him, and hinder him in all his affairs; or rather to accuse him, for this was the place and posture of accusers in the Jewish courts. When he shall be judged — When he shall be called to an account, and his cause be examined before thy tribunal; let his prayer become sin — That is, be turned into sin, or be as unavailable with thee for his relief as his sins. When he makes supplication to his judge, as Job speaks, Job 9:16, for pity and pardon, let his judge be the more provoked and enraged by it. If David spoke thus in reference to Doeg or Ahithophel, (see the contents,) it was only as they were types of Judas: at least the Holy Ghost intended it of Judas, and the persecutors of our Lord, as we learn Acts 1:20, of whom this whole paragraph, to the end of Psalm 109:19, is a prophecy. Thus Dr. Horne on Psalm 109:6 : “A transition is here made to the adversaries of Messiah; primarily to Judas, who was guide to them that took Jesus, Acts 1:16; secondarily to the synagogue, of whom Judas may be considered as an epitome and representative. It is foretold, that by betraying and murdering the best of masters, they should subject themselves to the tyranny of the worst; that they should become slaves to the wicked one, who should justly be set over them, when they had delivered themselves into his hands; that Satan, who had stood by them to tempt them, should stand at their right hand, to accuse them at the tribunal of God; that, when tried, they would be convicted and condemned, and even their prayer would be an abomination in the sight of the Lord, as being offered without true contrition and repentance, without faith, hope, or charity. Such is the wretched state of the Jews, estranged from God, and in bondage to the devil; such the prayers which, from hardened and malignant hearts, they continually utter for the excision of all Christians, and for the extirpation of that blessed name on which Christians call.”

109:6-20 The Lord Jesus may speak here as a Judge, denouncing sentence on some of his enemies, to warn others. When men reject the salvation of Christ, even their prayers are numbered among their sins. See what hurries some to shameful deaths, and brings the families and estates of others to ruin; makes them and theirs despicable and hateful, and brings poverty, shame, and misery upon their posterity: it is sin, that mischievous, destructive thing. And what will be the effect of the sentence, Go, ye cursed, upon the bodies and souls of the wicked! How it will affect the senses of the body, and the powers of the soul, with pain, anguish, horror, and despair! Think on these things, sinners, tremble and repent.Set thou a wicked man over him - This commences the imprecatory part of the psalm, extending to Psalm 109:20. The first thing that the psalmist asks is, that his foe might be subjected to the evil of having a man placed over him like himself: a man regardless of justice, truth, and right; a man who would respect character and propriety no more than he had himself done. It is, in fact, a prayer that he might be punished "in the line of his offences." It cannot be wrong that a man should be treated as he treats others; and it cannot be in itself wrong to desire that a man should be treated according to his character and deserts, for this is the object of all law, and this is what all magistrates and legislators are endeavoring to secure.

And let Satan stand at his right hand - As his counselor and adviser. The language would be properly applicable to one who had been a counselor or adviser to a king in the administration of the government; and the prayer is, that he might know what it was to have such a one as his counselor and adviser. The language used would seem to make it not improbable that David here refers particularly to someone who had occupied this position in reference to himself, and who had betrayed his trust; who had given him crafty and malignant counsel; who had led him into bad measures; who had used his position to promote his own interests at the expense of his master's. David had such counselors, as anyone in authority may have. The prayer, then, would be, that such a man might be punished in his own line; that he might know what it was to have a bad and wicked adviser. The word rendered "Satan" - שׂטן śâṭân - is in the margin rendered "adversary." In the Septuagint it is διάβολος diabolos; in the Vulgate, "diabolus." See the notes at Job 1:6, for its meaning. The prayer here seems not to be that the devil or Satan might stand near him as his counselor; but that a man - a real adversary - an accuser - one with a malignant heart - one who would make use of his position to accomplish his own purposes, and to betray the interests of his master, might give him counsel, as seems to have been done in the case of David.

6. over him—one of his enemies prominent in malignity (Ps 55:12).

let Satan stand—as an accuser, whose place was the right hand of the accused (Zec 3:1, 2).

6 Set thou a wicked man over him; and let Satan stand at his fight hand.

7 When he shall be judged, let him be condemned; and let his prayer become sin.

8 Let his days be few; and let another take his office.

9 Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.

10 Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg; let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places.

11 Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let the strangers spoil his labour.

12 Let there be none to extend mercy unto him; neither let there be any to favour his fatherless children.

13 Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out.

14 Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered with the Lord; and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out.

15 Let them be before the Lord continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth.

16 Because that he remembered not to shew mercy, but persecuted the poor and needy man, that he might even slay the broken in heart.

17 As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him: as he delighted not in blessing, so let it be far from him.

18 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.

19 Let it be unto him as the garment which covereth him, and for a girdle wherewith he is girded continually.


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.

Set thou a wicked man over him,.... Or "them", as the Syriac version; over everyone of his adversaries, and all of them: and which may be interpreted, as it is by Cocceius, of tyrannical princes and governors, set over the Jews, as Tiberius, Caius, Claudius, Nero, &c. and their deputies, Pilate, Felix, Festus, Florus; all wicked men, and which were a judgment on them for their usage of Christ. Though here some single person is designed, even Judas, notorious for his enmity and ingratitude to Christ; and by the wicked one set over him may be meant Satan, as in the next clause, as he is sometimes called, Matthew 13:38, into whose hands and power Judas was put, under whose influence he was; who entered into him, took possession of him, and put it into his heart to betray his Master, John 13:2.

And let Satan stand at his right hand; to direct and influence him, to solicit and tempt him to do the evil he did, and to accuse him for it when done; see Zechariah 3:1.

{c} Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand.

(c) Whether it was Doeg or Saul, or some familiar friend that had betrayed him, he prays not for private affection, but moved by God's Spirit, that God would take vengeance on him.

6. Set thou] appoint. He is himself in office (Psalm 109:8, a cognate word, ‘appointment’), but let him be called to account before superior authority.

Satan] Rather an adversary, or, an accuser, for evidently it is a human tribunal before which he is to be summoned, not, as in Zechariah 3:1, the bar of heaven. The word comes from the same root as adversary in Psalm 109:4; Psalm 109:20; Psalm 109:29. We may infer from Zechariah 3:1 that it was customary for the accuser to stand on the right hand of the accused in the court.

6, 7. Let this heartless persecutor of the innocent be put upon his trial, and that before a judge as heartless, and with a malicious accuser as unscrupulous, as himself: let him be found guilty, and let his cry for mercy find no hearing.

6–20. The thought of the enormity of this ingratitude overmasters the Psalmist. He breaks out suddenly into a passionate prayer that due retribution may fall upon the chief offender. May the ruin he was planning for another overtake himself!

The singular (‘over him’ &c.), which now takes the place of the plural, may be collective, the Psalmist’s enemies being regarded as a whole; or distributive, each one of the mass being singled out: but more probably it fastens upon the leader of the gang (Psalm 109:2) upon whom rests the real guilt. Cp. for the sudden transition Psalm 55:12 ff., Psalm 55:20 ff.

Verses 6-15. - The imprecatory portion of the psalm now begins. It is no doubt true to say, with Tholuck, that "no passion is discernible in the imprecations, dreadful as they are." Clearly the writer is not moved by personal feelings of hostility, but by a spirit of justice, and an intense abhorrence of sin. He delivers a calm judicial sentence. Still, the spirit of Christian love must ever shrink from such utterances, which belong to an earlier and less perfect dispensation (comp. Luke 9:51-56). Verse 6. - Set thou a wicked man over him; i.e. to judge him (see ver. 7). A persecutor deserves to be himself persecuted, an oppressor to be himself oppressed. "Nec lex justior ulla est, Quam necis artifices arte periresua." And let Satan stand at his right hand; rather, an adversary, or an accuser. In courts of justice the accuser stood at the accused person's right hand. Psalm 109:6The writer now turns to one among the many, and in the angry zealous fervour of despised love calls down God's judgment upon him. To call down a higher power, more particularly for punishment, upon any one is expressed by על (הפקיד) פּקד, Jeremiah 15:3; Leviticus 26:16. The tormentor of innocence shall find a superior executor who will bring him before the tribunal (which is expressed in Latin by legis actio per manus injectionem). The judgment scene in Psalm 109:6, Psalm 109:7 shows that this is what is intended in Psalm 109:6: At the right hand is the place of the accuser, who in this instance will not rest before the damnatus es has been pronounced. He is called שׂטן, which is not to be understood here after 1 Samuel 29:4; 2 Samuel 19:22, but after Zechariah 3:1; 1 Chronicles 21:1, if not directly of Satan, still of a superhuman (cf. Numbers 22:22) being which opposes him, by appearing before God as his κατήγωρ; for according to Psalm 109:7 the שׂטן is to be thought of as accuser, and according to Psalm 109:7 God as Judge. רשׁע has the sense of reus, and יצא refers to the publication of the sentence. Psalm 109:7 wishes that his prayer, viz., that by which he would wish to avert the divine sentence of condemnation, may become לחטאה, not: a missing of the mark, i.e., ineffectual (Thenius), but, according to the usual signification of the word: a sin, viz., because it proceeds from despair, not from true penitence. In Psalm 109:8 the incorrigible one is wished an untimely death (מעטּים as in one other instance, only, Ecclesiastes 5:1) and the loss of his office. The lxx renders: τὴν ἐπισκοπὴν αὐτοῦ λάβοι ἕτερος. פּקדּה really signifies the office of overseer, oversight, office, and the one individual must have held a prominent position among the enemies of the psalmist. Having died off from this position before his time, he shall leave behind him a family deeply reduced in circumstances, whose former dwelling - place-he was therefore wealthy - becomes "ruins." His children wander up and down far from these ruins (מן as e.g., in Judges 5:11; Job 28:4) and beg (דּרשׁ, like προσαιτεῖν ἐπαιτεῖν, Sir. 40:28 equals לחם בּקּשׁ, Psalm 37:25). Instead of ודרשׁוּ the reading ודרשׁוּ is also found. A Poel is now and then formed from the strong verbs also,

(Note: In connection with the strong verb it frequently represents the Piel which does not occur, as with דּרשׁ, לשׁן, שׁפט, or even represents the Piel which, as in the case of שׁרשׁ, is already made use of in another signification (Piel, to root out; Poel, to take root).)

in the inflexion of which the Cholem is sometimes shortened to Kametz chatuph; vid., the forms of לשׁן, to slander, in Psalm 101:5, תּאר, to sketch, mark out in outline, Isaiah 44:13, cf. also Job 20:26 (תּאכלהוּ) and Isaiah 62:9 (according to the reading מאספיו). To read the Kametz in these instances as ā, and to regard these forms as resolved Piels, is, in connection with the absence of the Metheg, contrary to the meaning of the pointing; on purpose to guard against this way of reading it, correct codices have ודרשׁוּ (cf. Psalm 69:19), which Baer has adopted.

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