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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 141

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-10

This psalm, like the last, is generally supposed to have been composed by David during his persecution by Saul, probably when he fled to Achish. The late Rev. Mr. Peters, a Cornish clergyman, has favoured the public with a new translation of this psalm, which will gratify the reader.

1. JEHOVAH, I call upon thee; give ear to my voice when I cry unto thee.

2. Let my prayer be set forth as incense before thee; the lifting up of my hands as an evening oblation.

3. Set, oh Lord, a watch to my mouth, a guard over the door of my lips.

4. Incline not my heart to an evil thing, to attempt enterprises in wickedness, with men that work iniquity, or idolatry; neither let me eat of their dainties.

5. Let the just man be still upbraiding me with my goodness, and let the ointment of my head be urged against me; it shall not break my head; for hitherto yea, my prayer hath been against their wickedness.

6. Their judges have been dismissed in the rocky places, and have heard my words that were sweet.

7. Like as when one cutteth and cleaveth, so have our bones been scattered on the earth, at the command of Saul.”

This good man, for לפי שׁאול lepi sheol, at the grave’s mouth, reads, “at the command of Saul.” Dr. Durell has done the same; and bishop Horne has adopted the reading. Sheol, the grave, and Saul, being the same in the Hebrew.

Psalms 141:6 . When their judges are overthrown in stony places. The readings vary here. “When their judges shall be swallowed up together in stony places when their governors shall be precipitated among the rocks.” When any man was found murdered, the elders washed their hands, and purged the land of innocent blood, by slaying a beast in a rough place. Elijah, following custom no doubt, slew the prophets of Baal at the brook, or in the stony bed of the river, then dried up. A similar custom prevails among the Caribbs, in St. Vincent. One of them had killed his wife. Her brother demanded satisfaction of the offender; and on being asked what kind of satisfaction he demanded, he replied, “That you shall take your sister, and kill her over such a stream of water.” Hence it is highly probable that the Hebrew and the Indian custom of putting criminals to death in rough places, or on streams of water, originated in early customs of the patriarchal families. Though insuperable difficulties present themselves in all the ancient Versions, yet the sense seems to refer to the massacre of the eighty priests by Saul, whose words were sweet; but whose bones were profanely scattered on the ground.


David here, as in Psalms 130:0., and at the opening of many other psalms, prays for audience. He prays while in a strange land, that God would keep his heart from being inclined to any wicked thing, such as eating the dainties of an idolatrous banquet; because compliance with an invitation to such a feast, though the idolatry was closed in the early part of the day; yet there would be so much corrupt conversation, idolatrous singing, and so many lascivious airs, as to preclude a good man from preserving his purity of heart.

He would not only receive reproof with kindness, but it should be to him as the fragrant oil which anointed the head. See Psalms 133:0. If reproof comes from a righteous man, however pure from spleen, however dictated by the purest motives of brotherly kindness; yet it is a word to wound wickedness lurking in the heart. Nothing perhaps is a truer test of regeneration than when we take reproof as David did from Nathan; and say, I have sinned pray the Lord for me. Whereas if we resent admonition, it is a sad sign, that as yet the work of grace in the heart is very superficial; and we should never think that we have attained our Lord’s temper, till we have learned of him to drink the bitter cup, saying, Father, not as I will, but as thou wilt.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 141". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/psalms-141.html. 1835.
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