Psalm 144:8
Whose mouth speaks vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood.
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(8) Right hand of falsehood.—Most probably with allusion to the custom (see Psalm 106:26) of raising the right hand in taking an oath.

144:1-8 When men become eminent for things as to which they have had few advantages, they should be more deeply sensible that God has been their Teacher. Happy those to whom the Lord gives that noblest victory, conquest and dominion over their own spirits. A prayer for further mercy is fitly begun with a thanksgiving for former mercy. There was a special power of God, inclining the people of Israel to be subject to David; it was typical of the bringing souls into subjection to the Lord Jesus. Man's days have little substance, considering how many thoughts and cares of a never-dying soul are employed about a poor dying body. Man's life is as a shadow that passes away. In their highest earthly exaltation, believers will recollect how mean, sinful, and vile they are in themselves; thus they will be preserved from self-importance and presumption. God's time to help his people is, when they are sinking, and all other helps fail.Those mouth speaketh vanity - Vain things; things not real and true; falsehood; lies. See the notes at Psalm 24:4. The idea is, that what they said had no foundation in truth - no reality. Truth is solid and reliable; falsehood is unreliable and vain.

And their right hand is a right hand of falsehood - The meaning here seems to be that even under the solemnities of an oath, when they lifted up their hands to swear, when they solemnly appealed to God, there was no reliance to be placed on what they affirmed or promised. Oaths were taken by lifting up the right hand as toward God. See Genesis 14:22; Exodus 6:8 (Margin, and Hebrew); Deuteronomy 32:40.


Ps 144:1-15. David's praise of God as his all-sufficient help is enhanced by a recognition of the intrinsic worthlessness of man. Confidently imploring God's interposition against his enemies, he breaks forth into praise and joyful anticipations of the prosperity of his kingdom, when freed from vain and wicked men.

Vanity; either,

1. Vain brags and threatenings, which shall come to nothing; or,

2. Vain and deceitful promises, or professions, or friendship. Their right hand; here mentioned either,

1. As it is used in swearing, to note their perjury; or rather,

2. As an instrument of action. Is a right hand of falsehood; deceiving either,

1. Themselves, by being unable to do what they designed; or,

2. Others, by not giving them that help which they promised to them. Whose mouth speaketh vanity,.... Vain words, lies, flatteries, and deceit, Psalm 12:2; when they speak loftily of themselves, and contemptuously of others; when they deliver out threatenings against some, and make fair promises to others; it is all vanity, and comes to nothing;

and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood; their strength and power to perform what they boast of, threaten, or promise, is fallacious, is mere weakness, and cannot effect anything; or their treaties, contracts, and covenants, they enter into and sign with their right hand, are not kept by them; they act the treacherous and deceitful part. The Latin interpreter of the Arabic version renders it, "their oath is an oath of iniquity"; and Ben Balaam in Aben Ezra, and R. Adnim in Ben Melech, say the word so signifies in the Arabic language; and Schultens (m) has observed the same: but the word in that language signifies the right hand as well as an oath, and need not be restrained to that; it is better to take it in the large sense, as Cocceius (n) does; whether they lifted up the hand to pray, or to swear; or gave it to covenant with, to make contracts and agreements; or stretched it out to work with; it was a right hand of falsehood.

(m) Observat. Philolog. p. 195. (n) Lexicon, col. 312.

Whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand {g} of falsehood.

(g) For though they shake hands, they do not keep their promises.

8. vanity] i.e. falsehood: cp. Psalm 12:2; Psalm 41:6.

their right hand &c.] Uplifted in swearing a solemn oath. Cp. Psalm 106:26.Verse 8. - Whose mouth speaketh vanity; rather, fraud (comp. Psalm 18:45). A feigned submission of some foreign enemy is probably glanced at. And their right hand is a right hand of falsehood. The right hand was lifted up in the taking of a solemn oath (see Ezekiel 20:15). The whole of this first strophe is an imitation of David's great song of thanksgiving, Psalm 18. Hence the calling of Jahve "my rock," Psalm 18:3, Psalm 18:47; hence the heaping up of other appellations in Psalm 144:2, in which Psalm 18:3 is echoed; but וּמפלּטי־לי (with Lamed deprived of the Dagesh) follows the model of 2 Samuel 22:2. The naming of Jahve with חסדּי is a bold abbreviation of אלהי חסדּי in Psalm 59:11, 18, as also in Jonah 2:8 the God whom the idolatrous ones forsake is called הסדּם. Instead of מלחמה the Davidic Psalms also poetically say קרב, Psalm 55:22, cf. Psalm 78:9. The expression "who traineth my hands for the fight" we have already read in Psalm 18:35. The last words of the strophe, too, are after Psalm 18:48; but instead of ויּדבּר this poet says הרודד, from רדד equals רדה (cf. Isaiah 45:1; Isaiah 41:2), perhaps under the influence of uwmoriyd in 2 Samuel 22:48. In Psalm 18:48 we however read עמּים, and the Masora has enumerated Psalm 144:2, together with 2 Samuel 22:44; Lamentations 3:14, as the three passages in which it is written עמי, whilst one expects עמים (ג דסבירין עמים), as the Targum, Syriac, and Jerome (yet not the lxx) in fact render it. But neither from the language of the books nor from the popular dialect can it be reasonably expected that they would say עמּי for עמּים in such an ambiguous connection. Either, therefore, we have to read עמים,

(Note: Rashi is acquainted with an otherwise unknown note of the Masora: תחתיו קרי; but this Ker is imaginary.)

or we must fall in with the strong expression, and this is possible: there is, indeed, no necessity for the subduing to be intended of the use of despotic power, it can also be intended to God-given power, and of subjugating authority. David, the anointed one, but not having as yet ascended the throne, here gives expression to the hope that Jahve will grant him deeds of victory which will compel Israel to submit to him, whether willingly or reluctantly.

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