Psalm 64:5
They encourage themselves in an evil matter: they commune of laying snares privately; they say, Who shall see them?
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(5) They encourage themselves.—Literally, they strengthen for themselves an evil thing (or “word,” margin, LXX., and Vulg.,) which evidently means that they take their measures carefully, and are prepared to carry them out resolutely.

They commune . . .—Better, they calculate how they may lay snares privily. The conspirators carefully and in secret go over every detail of their plot.

Who shall see them?—Literally, who shall look to them? which seems at first glance to mean, “who will see the snares?” but this is weak. It may be equivalent to, who is likely to see us?” the question being put indirectly. But in 1Samuel 16:7, the expression, “looketh on,” implies “regard for,” which may possibly be the meaning here, “who careth for them?”

Psalm 64:5-6. They encourage themselves — Hebrew, יחזקו, jechazeku, they strengthen, or fortify themselves, by firm resolutions, by assured confidence of success, by uniting their counsels and forces together, and by mutual encouragements and exhortations. They say, Who shall see them — Their snares are so secretly laid, that they think David cannot discern, nor therefore avoid them. They search out iniquities — They study diligently and constantly to find out either matter which they may lay to my charge, or new ways and means of doing mischief. They accomplish a diligent search — They have long and accurately searched, till at last they have ripened and perfected their thoughts, and contrived a very cunning and deep plot. Or, they say, We have accomplished our accurate search. By long searching we have at last found what we desired. And the heart is deep — Deep as hell, desperately wicked, who can know it? By their unaccountable wickedness, they show themselves to be, both in subtlety and malignity, the genuine offspring of the old serpent.64:1-6 The psalmist earnestly begs of God to preserve him from disquieting fear. The tongue is a little member, but it boasts great things. The upright man is the mark at which the wicked aim, they cannot speak peaceably either of him or to him. There is no guard against a false tongue. It is bad to do wrong, but worse to encourage ourselves and one another in it. It is a sign that the heart is hardened to the greatest degree, when it is thus fully set to do evil. A practical disbelief of God's knowledge of all things, is at the bottom of every wickedness. The benefit of a good cause and a good conscience, appears most when nothing can help a man against his enemies, save God alone, who is always a present help.They encourage themselves - literally, they strengthen themselves, or make themselves strong. That is, they take counsel; they encourage each other; they urge one another forward; they suggest to each other methods by which what they purpose may be done, and by which difficulties may be overcome. This was a part of their "secret counsel" or their consultation, Psalm 64:2.

In an evil matter - Margin, as in Hebrew, speech. The reference is to their purpose or plan. They strengthen themselves for doing what they know to be a wrong or wicked thing.

They commune - literally, they tell or speak. That is, they tell each other how it may be done, or suggest different methods by which it may be successfully accomplishled. They compare views, that they may select that which will be most likely to be successful. All this indicates plan, consultation, design.

Of laying snares privily - Margin, as in Hebrew, to hide snares. This is a figure derived from the method of taking wild beasts. See Psalm 7:15, note; Psalm 38:12, note. The reference here is to some secret plan by which they intended that the author of the psalm should be entrapped and ruined. It was not a plan of open and manly warfare, but a purpose to destroy him when he would have no opportunity of defense.

They say, Who shall see them? - That is, who will see the snares or pit-falls? Who will be aware of their existence? They sought to make the plan so secret that no one could discover it, or even suspect it; to keep it so concealed that he for whom it was intended could not be put on his guard. Compare Psalm 10:8-9.

5. A sentiment here more fully presented, by depicting their deliberate malice. They encourage themselves, Heb. they strengthen or fortify themselves, by firm resolutions, by assured confidence of success, by uniting their counsels and forces together, and by mutual encouragements and exhortations.

Who shall see them? their snares are so secretly laid that David cannot discern, and therefore not avoid them. They encourage themselves in an evil matter,.... Or "strengthen him" (c); that is, Saul, by making use of arguments and reasonings to induce him to go on in his wicked persecution of David; or they strengthened and hardened themselves in their wickedness, as Saul's courtiers and the enemies of Christ did, and as all wicked men do, when they observe the sentence against them is not speedily executed, Ecclesiastes 8:11;

they commune of laying snares privily; that is, they conversed together, and consulted how to lay snares for the perfect man in the most private manner, that they might entrap him and destroy him;

they say, who shall see them? either the snares laid, or the persons that laid them? None; no, not even God himself; see Psalm 10:11.

(c) "firmant illi", Muis.

They {f} encourage themselves in an evil matter: they commune of laying snares privily; they say, Who shall see them?

(f) The more the wicked set God's children in misery, the more bold and impudent are they in oppressing them.

5. They encourage &c.] Lit., They make strong for themselves an evil scheme, sparing no pains to make their plot successful.

they say] Lit. they have said, i.e. to themselves; they have made up their minds that there is no retributive Providence in the world. This is the reason of their unrestrained wickedness.

Who shall see them?] An indirect form of speech in place of the direct Who will see us? More exactly the Heb. means, Who will see to them? They have persuaded themselves that there is no God who will take any account of their proceedings. Cp. Psalm 10:11; Psalm 10:13; Psalm 12:4; Psalm 59:7; Isaiah 29:15, &c.Verse 5. - They encourage themselves in an evil matter; or, in an evil scheme - the plan of making David unpopular, and then raising the standard of open revolt against him (2 Samuel 15:1-12). They commune of laying snares privily. The ungodly continually set traps for the righteous, who are so simple that they often fall into them. We do not know the exact proceedings of his enemies against David at the time, the narrative of 2 Samuel 15 being so brief; but it was probably by some trickery that David was induced to quit the stronghold of Jerusalem, and so yield the seat of government, and many other advantages, to his rival. They say, Who shall see them? (comp. Psalm 10:11; Psalm 59:7; Psalm 94:7). It is an inveterate folly for men to imagine, either that God will not see their actions, or that he will pay no heed to them. A spurious humility is brought into play in the latter case - How can it be supposed that God will note the doings of such worms as men? The closing strophe turns towards these foes. By והמּה he contrasts with his own person, as in Psalm 59:16., Psalm 56:7., the party of the enemy, before which he has retreated into the desert. It is open to question whether לשׁואה is intended to be referred, according to Psalm 35:17, to the persecuted one (to destroy my life), or, with Hupfeld, to the persecutors (to their own destruction, they themselves for destruction). If the former reference to the persecuted be adopted, we ought, in order to give prominence to the evidently designed antithesis to Psalm 63:9, to translate: those, however, who..., shall go down into the depths of the earth (Bttcher, and others); a rendering which is hazardous as regards the syntax, after המּה and in connection with this position of the words. Therefore translate: On the other hand, those, to (their own) ruin do they seek my soul. It is true this ought properly to be expressed by לשׁואתם, but the absence of the suffix is less hazardous than the above relative rendering of יבּקּשׁוּ. What follows in Psalm 63:10-11 is the expansion of לשׁואה. The futures from יבאוּ onwards are to be taken as predictive, not as imprecatory; the former accords better with the quiet, gentle character of the whole song. It shall be with them as with the company of Korah. תּחתּיּות הארץ is the interior of the earth down into its deepest bottom; this signification also holds good in Psalm 139:15; Isaiah 44:23.

(Note: In this passage in Isaiah are meant the depths of the earth (lxx θεμέλια τῆς γῆς), the earth down to its inmost part, with its caverns, abysses, and subterranean passages. The apostle, however, in Ephesians 4:9 by τὰ κατώτερα τῆς γῆς means exactly the same as what in our passage is called in the lxx τὰ κατώτατα τῆς γῆς: the interior of the earth equals the under world, just as it is understood by all the Greek fathers (so far as my knowledge extends); the comparative κατώτερος is used just like ἐνέρτερος.)

The phrase הגּיר על־ידי חרב here and in Jeremiah 18:21; Ezekiel 35:5 (Hiph., not of גּרר, to drag, tear away, but נגר, to draw towards, flow), signifies properly to pour upon equals into the hands (Job 16:11), i.e., to give over (הסגּיר) into the power of the sword; effundent eum is (much the same as in Job 4:19; Job 18:18, and frequently) equivalent to effundetur. The enallage is like Psalm 5:10; Psalm 7:2., and frequently: the singular refers to each individual of the homogeneous multitude, or to this multitude itself as a concrete persona moralis. The king, however, who is now banished from Jerusalem to the habitation of jackals, will, whilst they become a portion (מנת equals מנות), i.e., prey, of the jackals (vid., the fulfilment in 2 Samuel 18:7.), rejoice in Elohim. Every one who sweareth by Him shall boast himself. Theodoret understands this of swearing κατὰ τὴν τοῦ βασιλέως σωτηρίαν. Hengstenberg compares the oath חי פרעה, Genesis 42:15. Ewald also (217, f) assumes this explanation to be unquestionable. But the Israelite is to swear by the name of Jahve and by no other, Deuteronomy 6:13; Isaiah 65:16, cf. Amos 8:14. If the king were meant, why was it not rather expressed by הנשׁבּע לו, he who swears allegiance to him? The syntax does not help us to decide to what the בּו refers. Neinrich Moeller (1573) says of the בו as referred to the king: peregrinum est et coactum; and A. H. Franke in his Introductio in Psalterium says of it as referred to Elohim: coactum est. So far as the language is concerned, both references are admissible; but as regards the subject-matter, only the latter. The meaning, as everywhere else, is a searing by God. He who, without allowing himself to turn from it, swore by Elohim, the God of Israel, the God of David His anointed, and therefore acknowledged Him as the Being exalted above all things, shall boast himself or "glory," inasmuch as it shall be practically seen how well-founded and wise was this recognition. He shall glory, for the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped, forcibly closed, viz., those who, together with confidence in the Christ of God, have by falsehood also undermined the reverence which is due to God Himself. Psalm 64:1-10 closes very similarly, and hence is placed next in order.

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