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Bible Commentaries

The Biblical Illustrator

Psalms 64

Verses 1-10

Psalms 64:1-10

Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer: preserve my life from fear of the enemy.

Man’s enmity towards man

We see this enmity here in three aspects.

Piously dreaded. David prays against it. He prays for his own protection. Self-preservation is a natural instinct, and it is right that it should have a religious expression.

Characteristically working. How does enmity work generally?

1. Clandestinely (Psalms 64:2). Enmity in the heart, like poison in the serpent, has within it the instinct of cunning.

2. Slanderously (Psalms 64:3-4). “Slander, whose edge,” says Shakespeare, “is sharper than a sword.” It strikes at the reputation of the foe, and reputation is as dear as life.

3. Plottingly (Psalms 64:5). It lays traps and snares for the foe everywhere--snares by which a man may lose his commercial credit, his domestic peace, his social reputation.

4. Diligently (Psalms 64:6). Enmity is not dormant or lazy, nor a spasmodic agent, it is systematically and persistently active: it pursues its victim, tracks him until it finds him out, however labyrinthian the course.

Divinely thwarted. “God shall shoot at them with an arrow.”

1. Unawares (Psalms 64:7). Divine judgment will Strike at the malignant man when he least expects it.

2. By its own agency (Psalms 64:8). The malicious man must destroy himself. This is God’s law (Job 5:12-13).

3. in such a way as shall make an impression upon all (Psalms 64:9-10). What David here predicates of his enemies applies to all malignant men. Divine retribution will overtake them; they shall be baffled, thwarted, confounded, ruined, (Homilist.)

Verse 5

Psalms 64:5

They say, Who shall see them?

Omniscience ignored

It is a fact that this notion has great influence upon the conduct of man. They like to cherish such notion, finding it convenient. Because they sometimes escape the eye of man, they think it possible to escape the eye of God. The sinner persuades himself that he has gained his end, escaped observation and avoided the punishment.

It is a fact that this notion is utterly untruthful and delusive. If God exist, this must be so. The spirituality of His nature makers possible His onmipresence and omniscience.

God has often exposed this delusion, and the time is fixed for the complete demonstration.

1. Character is often seen through by man.

2. Retribution often follows men’s deeds here and now.

3. The future state will show that God saw all. (Homiletic Magazine.)

Verses 9-10

Psalms 64:9-10

And all men shall fear, and shall declare the work of God; for they shall wisely consider of His doing.

Preservation from enemies

An act of God. His enemies were strong and powerful, but God was omnipotent, and in Him was his help and trust; they designed his utter ruin, but God turned their mischief upon their own heads.

1. The suddenness of their destruction.

2. The manner of the discovery, and prevention of his danger.

Its effect upon men in general.

1. Fear, which naturally arises in men’s minds upon the apprehensions of God’s irresistible power and greatness; for whom has an arm like God? or who can thunder with a voice like Him? yea, who can hear His voice and not tremble? or see His hand stretched out and not be afraid? “All men shall fear,” but fear alone will not profit us; for the devils tremble before the power they hate, and wicked men may dread God’s vengeance, where they are unwilling to see His hand; and therefore here follows another effect, which such signal actions have upon men.

2. “They shall declare the work of God.” And this is an effect as general and large as the other, though upon different accounts; for even they who are unwilling to own it shall be forced to acknowledge it, and they for whose sake it is done shall rejoice to publish it.

3. “They shall wisely consider of His doing.” That is, they shall better understand the method of God’s proceedings, and the reasons of His dealings in the world; for these things make it plain that God takes care of the affairs of His people, and that the enemies of His Church shall not be able to prevail against her.

A duty resulting from all these considerations, and chiefly incumbent on good men.

1. “The righteous shall be glad in the Lord.” A duty no less easy than pleasant, and that which we all seem to covet most; that which we eagerly pursue as the best of this world’s satisfaction, joy and rejoicing.

2. “The righteous shall trust in Him.” And good reason indeed to trust in Him, of whose favour and lovingkindness we have had so large experience; well may we rely on that power which is so able to protect us; well may we depend on that providence which so remarkably takes care of us.

3. “All the upright in heart shall glory.” They shall glory in His strength, and triumph in His favour. But that is not all; they shall glory in the confusion of the wicked, and rejoice in the continual disappointment of such treacherous designs. (H. Dove, D. D.)

Providential deliverance

The necessity there is of attention and consideration, to discover the hand of God, and the manner of its working, in those events of which we are informed either by history, or our own experience.

“They shall consider of His doing.”

The wisdom of thus considering--“They shall wisely consider of His doing.”

Certain marks whereby we may at any time discern an especial providence, Diligently to mark, and carefully to treasure up in our minds, the special providences of the Almighty, is the way to preserve and nourish our faith and hope in Him; it furnishes the grounds of our thankfulness and praise; it stirs up our finest feelings and very best affections toward Him; holy joy, humble reverence, and hearty love; it supports us under all our sufferings; and affords us comfort in all our sorrows. (Bishop Horne.)

All the upright in heart shall glory.--

“All the upright in heart shall glory”

1. The dispositions of the persons. “All the upright in heart,” and then, the retribution upon these persons, “They shall glory,” or, they shall be celebrated, they shall be praised. In the first, the qualification of the persons, we shall pass by these steps; first, that God in His punishments and rewardings proposes to Himself persons. God does not begin at a retribution, nor begin at a condemnation, before He have persons, persons fit to be rewarded, persons fit to be condemned. God did not first make a heaven and a hell, and after think of making man, that He might have some persons to put in them; but, first for His glory He made man, and for those, who, by a good use of His grace preserved their state, heaven; and for those who, by their own fault fell, He made hell. And, in the qualifications of these persons, He proposes first a rectitude, a directness, an uprightness; declinations downward, deviations upon the wrong hand, squint-eyed men, left-handed men (in a spiritual sense), He meddles not withal. They must be direct, and upright; and then, “upright in heart”; for, to be good to ill ends (as, in many eases, a man may be), God accepts not, regards not. But, let him be a person thus qualified, “upright,” upright because he loves uprightness, “upright in heart”; and then, he is infallibly embraced in that general rule, and proposition, that admits no exception. All the upright in heart shall be partakers of this retribution; and in these branches we shall determine our first part, first, that God proposes to Himself persons; persons thus and thus qualified; He begins at them. Secondly, that God had rather dwell Himself, and propose to us the considerations of good persons, than bad, of His mercies, than His judgments, for He mentions no other here, but persons capable of His retributions; and then, the goodness that God considers, is rectitude, and rectitude in the root, in the heart; and from that root grows that spreading universality, that infallibility. All such are sure of the reward. And then, in our second part, in the reward itself, though it be delivered here in the whole bar, in the ingot, in the wedge, in bullion, in one single word, Gloriabuntur, Laudabuntur, they shall glory, yet it admits this mintage, and coining, and issuing in lesser pieces, that first we consider the thing itself, the metal in which God rewards us, glory, praise; and then, since God’s promise is fastened upon that (we shall be praised), as we may lawfully seek the praise of good men, so must we also willingly afford praise to good men, and to good actions. And then, since we find this retribution fixed in the future (we shall be praised, we shall be in glory), there arises this consolation, that though we have it not yet, yet we shall have it; though we be in dishonour, and contempt, and under a cloud, of which we see no end ourselves, yet there is a determined future in God, which shall be made present, we shall overcome this contempt, we shall glory, we shall be celebrated; in which future the consolation is thus much farther exalted, that it is an everlasting future; the glory, and praise, the approbation which we shall receive from good men here, shall flow out and continue to the hosannas in heaven, in the month of saints, and angels, and to the “Well done, good and faithful servant,” in the mouth of God Himself. (John Donne, D. D.)

Gladness in God

It is only where there is much faith and consequent love that there is much joy. If there is but little heat about the bulb of the thermometer, no wonder that the mercury marks but a low degree. If there is but small faith, there will not be much gladness. The road into Giant Despair’s castle is through doubt, which doubt comes from an absence--a sinful absence--in our own experience, of the felt presence of God, and the felt force of the verities of the Gospel. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)


Psalms 65:1-13

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Psalms 64". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.