Psalm 141:4
Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties.
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(4) To practise wicked works . . .—The Vulg., ad excusandas excusationes, following the LXX., not only preserves the expressive assonance of the original, but probably conveys its meaning better than the somewhat tame English version. Evidently the danger to be guarded against was not so much a sinful act as a sinful utterance, and the expression “to make pretexts or excuses” may possibly refer to the casuistries by which some of the laxer Jews excused their participation in heathen rites or licentious banquets. Symmachus has, “to devise wicked devices.”

Dainties.—The word is peculiar to this passage, but derived from a root meaning “pleasant.” The LXX. and Vulg. refer it to persons instead of things. But the use of the same root in Psalm 141:6, “for they are sweet,” where the reference is to “words,” suggests a meaning here different both from the English and the ancient versions. “I will not taste of their sweets” may mean “I will not listen to their allurements: what finds favour with them shall not tempt me.” On the other hand, if we retain the English allusion to the dainties of a feast (so Symmachus), the word in Psalm 141:6 will be used metaphorically in contrast. The words of condemnation he utters, though bitter to these feasters, are in reality sweet with the sweetness of truth.

141:1-4 Make haste unto me. Those that know how to value God's gracious presence, will be the more fervent in their prayers. When presented through the sacrifice and intercession of the Saviour, they will be as acceptable to God as the daily sacrifices and burnings of incense were of old. Prayer is a spiritual sacrifice, it is the offering up the soul and its best affections. Good men know the evil of tongue sins. When enemies are provoking, we are in danger of speaking unadvisedly. While we live in an evil world, and have such evil hearts, we have need to pray that we may neither be drawn nor driven to do any thing sinful. Sinners pretend to find dainties in sin; but those that consider how soon sin will turn into bitterness, will dread such dainties, and pray to God to take them out of their sight, and by his grace to turn their hearts against them. Good men pray against the sweets of sin.Incline not my heart to any evil thing - Hebrew, to a word that is evil; that is, wrong. The connection seems to demand that the term should be thus explained. The expression "Incline not" is not designed to mean that God exerts any "positive" influence in leading the heart to that which is wrong; but it may mean "Do not place me in circumstances where I may be tempted; do not leave me to myself; do not allow any improper influence to come over me by which I shall be led astray." The expression is similar to that in the Lord's Prayer: "Lead us not into temptation." The psalmist's allusion here has been explained in the introduction to the psalm.

To practice wicked works with people that work iniquity - To be united or associated with people who do wrong; to do the things which wicked and unprincipled people do. Let me not be permitted to do anything that will be regarded as identifying me with them. Let me not, in the circumstances in which I am placed, be left to act so that the fair interpretation of my conduct shall be that I am one of their number, or act on the same principles on which they act. Literally, "To practice practices in wickedness with people."

And let me not eat of their dainties - Let me not be tempted by any prospect of participating in their mode of living - in the luxuries and comforts which they enjoy - to do a wicked or wrong thing. Let not a prospect or desire of this overcome my better judgment, or the dictates of my conscience, or my settled principles of what is right. People often do this. Good people are often tempted to do it. The prospect or the hope of being enabled to enjoy what the rich enjoy, to live in luxury and ease, to be "clothed in short linen and fare sumptuously every day," to move in circles of splendor and fashion, often leads them to a course of action which their consciences condemn; to practices inconsistent with a life of godliness; to sinful indulgences which utterly ruin their character. Satan has few temptations for man more attractive and powerful than the "dainties" which wealth can give; and there are few of his devices more effectual in ruining people than those which are derived from these allurements. The word here rendered dainties properly refers to things which are pleasant, lovely, attractive; which give delight or pleasure. It may embrace "all" that the world has to offer as suited to give pleasure or enjoyment. It refers here to what those in more elevated life have to offer; what they themselves live for.


Ps 141:1-10. This Psalm evinces its authorship as the preceding, by its structure and the character of its contents. It is a prayer for deliverance from sins to which affliction tempted him, and from the enemies who caused it.

Incline not; suffer it not to be inclined or led aside, either by my own errors or lusts, or by the temptations of the world or of the devil. Thus God is frequently said to harden men’s hearts, not positively, for he can do no evil, nor tempt any man to it, Jam 1:3; but privatively, by denying softening grace.

My heart; keep me not only from wicked speeches, Psalm 141:3, but from all evil motions of my heart, which otherwise will draw me to many evil speeches and actions.

To practice wicked works with men that work iniquity; either,

1. To join with them in their sinful courses; or,

2. To do wickedly, as they do.

Let me not eat of their dainties; let me never enjoy or desire worldly comforts upon such terms as they do, to wit, with God’s wrath and curse, as instruments of wickedness, and of my own eternal destruction. My afflictions are more desirable than such prosperity. Let none of their sweet morsels, the pleasures or advantages which they gain by their wickedness, tempt me to approve of or imitate their ways. Incline not my heart to any evil thing,.... Or "evil word" (z), as the Targum; since out of the abundance of that the mouth speaketh, Matthew 12:34; or to any sinful thing, to the commission of any evil action: not that God ever inclines men's hearts to sin by any physical influence, it being what is repugnant to his nature and will, and what he hates and abhors; for though he hardens the hearts of wicked men, and gives them up to the lusts of them; yet he does not move, incline, or tempt any man to sin, James 1:13; but he may be said to do this when he suffers them to follow their own sinful inclinations, and leaves them to be inclined by the power and prevalency of their own corruptions, and by the temptations of Satan, which is here deprecated; see Psalm 119:36. So as

to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity; to join with those that make a trade of sinning; the course of whose life is evil, in their unfruitful works of darkness; and do as they do, even commit crimes the most flagitious and enormous: he seems to have respect to great persons, whose examples are very forcible and ensnaring; and therefore it requires an exertion of the powerful and efficacious grace of God, to preserve such from the influence of them, whose business is much with them;

and let me not eat of their dainties; since their table was a snare to themselves, it might be so to him; and be a means of betraying him unawares into the commission of some sins, which would be dishonourable and grieving to him: the psalmist desires not to partake with them at their table; but chose rather a meatier table and coarser fare, where he might be more free from temptation; see Proverbs 23:1. Or this may be understood of the dainties and sweet morsels of sin; which are like stolen waters, and bread eaten in secret, to a carnal heart: though the pleasures of it are but imaginary, and last but for a season, and therefore are avoided by a gracious man; by whom even afflictions with the people of God are preferred unto them, Hebrews 11:25. The Targum interprets it of the song of the house of their feasts; which is ensnaring.

(z) "ad verbum malum", Montanus.

Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their {d} dainties.

(d) Let not their prosperity lure me to be wicked as they are.

4. Incline not my heart &c.] Leave me not by the withdrawal of Thy grace, to turn aside from the path of right. Cp. Psalm 119:10; Psalm 119:133.

to practise &c.] To occupy myself in wicked practices with men who are workers of iniquity. The word for men implies that they are men of rank and position who set this bad example. Cp. Psalm 4:2, note.

let me not eat of their dainties] Let me not share their life of sensual luxury, the means for which are procured by violence and injustice. Cp. Proverbs 4:17, “For they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence”: Psalm 24:1-2. There does not seem to be any allusion to participation in idolatrous sacrifices.Verse 4. - Incline not my heart to any evil thing; i.e. let not my heart be inclined to any form of evil. To practice wicked works (rather, wicked practices) with men that work iniquity; and let me not eat of their dainties. Let me not be drawn in to their life of sinful luxury. The strophic symmetry is now at an end. The longer the poet lingers over the contemplation of the rebels the more lofty and dignified does his language become, the more particular the choice of the expressions, and the more difficult and unmanageable the construction. The Hiph. הסב signifies, causatively, to cause to go round about (Exodus 13:18), and to raise round about (2 Chronicles 14:6); here, after Joshua 6:11, where with an accusative following it signifies to go round about: to make the circuit of anything, as enemies who surround a city on all sides and seek the most favourable point for assault; מסבּי from the participle מסב. Even when derived from the substantive מסב (Hupfeld), "my surroundings" is equivalent to איבי סביבותי in Psalm 27:6. Hitzig, on the other hand, renders it: the head of my slanderers, from סבב, to go round about, Arabic to tell tales of any one, defame; but the Arabic sbb, fut. u, to abuse, the IV form (Hiphil) of which moreover is not used either in the ancient or in the modern language, has nothing to do with the Hebrew סבב, but signifies originally to cut off round about, then to clip (injure) any one's honour and good name.

(Note: The lexicographer Neshwn says, i.:279b: Arab. 'l-sbb 'l - šatm w-qı̂l an aṣl 'l-sbb 'l - qaṭ‛ ṯm ṣâr 'l - štm, "sebb is to abuse; still, the more original signification of cutting off is said to lie at the foundation of this signification." That Arab. qṭ‛ is synonymous with it, e.g., Arab. lı̂štqt‛fı̂nâ, why dost thou cut into us? i.e., why dost thou insult our honour? - Wetzstein.)

The fact that the enemies who surround the psalmist on every side are just such calumniators, is intimated here in the word שׂפתימו. He wishes that the trouble which the enemies' slanderous lips occasion him may fall back upon their own head. ראשׁ is head in the first and literal sense according to Psalm 7:17; and יכסּימו (with the Jod of the groundform kcy, as in Deuteronomy 32:26; 1 Kings 20:35; Chethb יכסּוּמו,

(Note: Which is favoured by Exodus 15:5, jechasjûmû with mû instead of mô, which is otherwise without example.)

after the attractional schema, 2 Samuel 2:4; Isaiah 2:11, and frequently; cf. on the masculine form, Proverbs 5:2; Proverbs 10:21) refers back to ראשׁ, which is meant of the heads of all persons individually. In Psalm 140:11 ימיטוּ (with an indefinite subject of the higher punitive powers, Ges. 137, note), in the signification to cause to descend, has a support in Psalm 55:4, whereas the Niph. נמוט, fut. ימּט, which is preferred by the Ker, in the signification to be made to descend, is contrary to the usage of the language. The ἅπ. λεγ. מהמרות has been combined by Parchon and others with the Arabic hmr, which, together with other significations (to strike, stamp, cast down, and the like), also has the signification to flow (whence e.g., in the Koran, mâ' munhamir, flowing water). "Fire" and "water" are emblems of perils that cannot be escaped, Psalm 66:12, and the mention of fire is therefore appropriately succeeded by places of flowing water, pits of water. The signification "pits" is attested by the Targum, Symmachus, Jerome, and the quotation in Kimchi: "first of all they buried them in מהמורות; when the flesh was consumed they collected the bones and buried them in coffins." On בּל־יקוּמוּ cf. Isaiah 26:14. Like Psalm 140:10-11, Psalm 140:12 is also not to be taken as a general maxim, but as expressing a wish in accordance with the excited tone of this strophe. אישׁ לשׁון is not a great talker, i.e., boaster, but an idle talker, i.e., slanderer (lxx ἀνὴρ γλωσσώδης, cf. Sir. 8:4). According to the accents, אישׁ חמס רע is the parallel; but what would be the object of this designation of violence as worse or more malignant? With Sommer, Olshausen, and others, we take רע as the subject to יצוּדנּוּ: let evil, i.e., the punishment which arises out of evil, hunt him; cf. Proverbs 13:21, חטּאים תּרדּף רעה, and the opposite in Psalm 23:6. It would have to be accented, according to this our construction of the words, אישׁ חמס רע יצודני למדחפת. The ἅπ. λεγ. למדחפת we do not render, with Hengstenberg, Olshausen, and others: push upon push, with repeated pushes, which, to say nothing more, is not suited to the figure of hunting, but, since דּחף always has the signification of precipitate hastening: by hastenings, that is to say, forced marches.

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