Verse 1. - In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and he heard me. The particular "distress' intended can only be conjectured. Some suppose it to be the Captivity itself, others the opposition offered by the Samaritans, Ammonites, and others to the rebuilding of the temple (Ezra 4, 5.) and restoration of the wails of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:19, 20; Nehemiah 4:1-23; Nehemiah 6:2-14). But these guesses are scarcely of much value.
Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue.
Verse 2. - Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips. Such as Sanballat's (Nehemiah 6:6 - 8). And from a deceitful tongue; literally, a tongue that is fraud - a mere variant of the expression in the preceding clause.
What shall be given unto thee? or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue?
Verse 3. - What shall be given unto thee? rather, what shall he (i.e. God) give to thee? Or, in other words - What punishment will God inflict on thee for thy false speaking? Or what shall be done unto thee? literally, or what shall he add to thee? Compare the common phrase, "God do so unto me, and more also" (1 Samuel 3:17; 1 Samuel 14:44). Thou false tongue. The "false tongue" is apostrophized, as if it were a living person.
Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper.
Verse 4. - Sharp arrows of the mighty. The psalmist answers his own questions. Sharp-pointed arrows of a Mighty One shall be given thee, and added to them shall be coals of juniper. God, i.e., shall punish thee with extreme severity.
Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar!
Verse 5. - Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech. This is scarcely to be understood literally. Israel never "sojourned in Mesech," i.e. among the Moschi, who dwelt in Cappadocia, nor dwelt among the tents of Kedar, a people of Northern Arabia. The writer means that he dwells among hostile and barbarous people, who are to him as Kedar and Mesech. Possibly the Samaritans and Ammonites are intended. That I dwell in the tents of Kedar; rather, among the tents (see the Revised Version).
My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace.
Verse 6. - My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace; i.e. with the tribes symbolized in the preceding verse by the names "Mesech" and "Kedar," the tribes bordering upon Judea. These were from first to last almost always at war with Israel.
I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war.
Verse 7. - I am for peace; literally, I am peace; but the meaning is as given in the Authorized Version. But when I speak (i.e. when I speak to them of peace), they are for war; i.e. they are utterly averse to peace, and are bent on continual hostility. The general history bears out this statement. There is only one apparent exception. When the Jews returned from the Captivity and began to build the temple, the Samaritans offered to join with them (Ezra 4:2). But the Samaritan offer was, perhaps, insincere. At any rate, when it was refused, they became the most bitter opponents of the Jews.