Verse 1. - Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer; rather, in my complaint (Cheyne, Revised Version); see Psalm 55:2. Preserve my life from fear of the enemy. David already feels that it is not his deposition only, but his life, that is sought (comp. 2 Samuel 15:14; 2 Samuel 17:2).
Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked; from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity:
Verse 2. - Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked; from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity. The first danger is from secret plots, which David knows to be going on against his authority (2 Samuel 15:1-12). The second, and greater danger, will be from open insurrection (2 Samuel 17:1-14).
Who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words:
Verse 3. - Who whet their tongue like a sword (comp. Psalm 55:21; Psalm 57:4; Psalm 59:7). And bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words (comp. Psalm 11:2; Psalm 57:4). Calumny was what David especially feared, and what actually brought about his downfall (see 2 Samuel 15:2-6). The "bitterness" of his enemies is further emphasized by the speeches and curses of Shimei (2 Samuel 16:5-13).
That they may shoot in secret at the perfect: suddenly do they shoot at him, and fear not.
Verse 4. - That they may shoot in secret at the perfect; or, in their hiding places. David does not scruple to call himself "perfect," using the word in the sense in which it is used of Job (Job 1:1; Job 2:3), meaning a sincere and upright man. Suddenly do they shoot at him, and fear not. They are not afraid, though it is "the anointed of the Lord," whom to attack is not only rebellion, but sacrilege (see 2 Samuel 1:14).
They encourage themselves in an evil matter: they commune of laying snares privily; they say, Who shall see them?
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?
They search out iniquities; they accomplish a diligent search: both the inward thought of every one of them, and the heart, is deep.
Verse 6. - They search out iniquities; they accomplish a diligent search; rather, they devise iniquities. We have accomplished (they say) a well devised device. So modern critics generally (Hengstenberg, Kay, Cheyne, Canon Cook, Revised Version). Both the inward thought of every one of them, and the heart, is deep. Therefore the righteous man is in great danger from them, unless God interpose.
But God shall shoot at them with an arrow; suddenly shall they be wounded.
Verse 7. - But God shall shoot at them with an arrow. But God will interpose. As they have shot with their arrows at the righteous (ver. 3), so with his arrow shall God shoot at them. Suddenly shall they be wounded. The first word, "suddenly," may belong equally well either to the preceding or to the following clause. The result is all that is important. Not the righteous, but they themselves, shall receive the wound; literally, their wound shall be.
So they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves: all that see them shall flee away.
Verse 8. - So they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves; rather, so shall they be made to stumble; their own tongue shall be against them. The tongue, which they "whetted like a sword," shall be the principal means of bringing them into trouble (see 2 Samuel 17:1-23). All that see them shall flee away; rather, shall wag the head (Cheyne, Revised Version) in derision.
And all men shall fear, and shall declare the work of God; for they shall wisely consider of his doing.
Verse 9. - And all men shall fear, and shall declare the work of God. The fate of David's enemies shall cause widespread fear and alarm. Men shall perceive God's hand in it, and shall be led, in consequence, to declare "God's work." The tragic ends of Ahithophel and Absalom were certainly well calculated to impress the minds of men generally, and to strike awe into the hearts of those who had looked with indifference, or even, perhaps, with satisfaction, on the political troubles. For they shall wisely consider of his doing; rather, for they shall understand his operation. They shall understand, i.e., that God is on the side of the righteous, and, when danger presses, will interpose on their behalf, to the terrible discomfiture of the wicked.
The righteous shall be glad in the LORD, and shall trust in him; and all the upright in heart shall glory.
Verse 10. - The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and shall trust in him. The righteous, delivered from their imminent peril, naturally "rejoice in the Lord," i.e. rejoice in God's goodness to them, and feel their confidence in him increased. And all the upright in heart shall glory (comp. Psalm 32:11; Psalm 58:11). A thrill of joy passes through the whole of God's people, whether they were involved in the danger escaped or not.