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Prayer for Deliverance from Slander and Deceit.
A song of degrees, literally, "of ascents," the first of fifteen psalms designated by that name, the reference being either to the fact that these hymns were used by the pilgrims on their three annual journeys to Jerusalem, or to the peculiar structure of these psalms, since every new verse or strophe builds up on the preceding in form and thought. The writer here, while acknowledging the mercy of God, prays for relief from a slanderous foe.
v. 1. In my distress, when he was in tribulation at some former time, I cried unto the Lord, turning to Him alone for deliverance, and He heard me, graciously affording help, for it pleases Him to have His children cry to Him.
v. 2. Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips and from a deceitful tongue, literally, "from a lip of lying, from a tongue of malice," the contention of the psalmist being implied that he is innocent of the charges falsely brought against him. He now turns directly to the base slanderer.
v. 3. What shall be given unto thee, by way of righteous punishment, or what shall be done unto thee, being added to the measure of the first punishment, thou false tongue? He himself gives the answer,
v. 4. Sharp arrows of the mighty, inflictions of a most destructive kind, with coals of juniper, the charcoal made of the wood of the broom-tree retaining its heat longest; a picture, therefore, of long-continued heat of affliction.
v. 5. Woe is me that I sojourn in Mesech, a region between the Black and the Caspian Sea, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar, of barbarous Arabia! The point of comparison in both cases is the wild and rude character of the people of these regions; such was also the nature of the slanderers of the psalmist, which made it appear to him that he had been inadvertently set down in the midst of barbarians.
v. 6. My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace, people who were maliciously hostile and took every occasion to do him harm.
v. 7. I am for peace, his entire attitude showed his love of peace, his willingness to maintain peace, his desire for peace; but when I speak, protesting this readiness to live at peace with all men, if possible, they are for war, they deliberately choose to regard his attitude as hostile and act accordingly. Thus the unbelievers everywhere pounce upon the slightest excuse for acts of hostility against the faithful, often even inventing an excuse for the occasion.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Psalms 120". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19