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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

Psalms 109

Verse 1

Psalms 109:0.

David complaining of his slanderous enemies, under the person of Judas, devoteth them: he sheweth their sin: complaining of his own misery, he prayth for help: he promiseth thankfulness.

To the chief musician, A Psalm of David.

Title. מזמור לדוד למנצח lamnatseach ledavid mizmor. There is no doubt that this psalm was composed by David; but whether when he was persecuted by Saul and calumniated by Doeg (see 1 Samuel 26:19.), or whether at the time of Absalom's rebellion, is uncertain. Several of the Jewish, interpreters think the former; though the Syriac translators understood it of the latter; if so, it refers to the traitor Ahithophel, who, in a fit of despair, went and hanged himself, 2 Samuel 17:23. In this last circumstance, he answers most exactly. But certain it is, that either Doeg or Ahithophel was a fit type and representative of the traitor Judas; who, without all question, was prophetically intended in this psalm, for so St. Peter expounds it, Acts 1:26. If therefore we consider it in its first sense as relating to one of them, yet in its principal and prophetic sense it refers to Judas and the persecutors of our Lord; against whom the Psalmist denounces the most dreadful judgments. And in this sense the curses, as they are called, can give no offence to any well-disposed mind; for in reality they are mere prophetic denunciations, and in that view should be translated throughout in the future, as we have had occasion to observe more than once before. To this effect Theodoret observes well, that, though our Saviour commands us to bless our persecutors, no one should think this prophesy repugnant to that command: for the Psalmist does not speak here by way of imprecation, but foretels the future punishment which should attend Judas and the unmerciful Jews who betrayed and persecuted Christ.

Psalms 109:1. Hold not thy peace The idea of God's holding his peace or keeping silence is opposed to his affording his gracious aid and protection to his servants. Of my praise, means, "who art the subject of my praise, or, who hath hitherto given me continual cause to praise thee." It may be read, O God, my praise.

Verse 4

Psalms 109:4. For my love, &c.— While I pray for them, they in return for my love falsely accuse me. Green.

Verse 6

Psalms 109:6. Set thou a wicked man over him Set a wicked one over him, and let an adversary stand at his right hand. I choose to translate it, says Mudge, by the general word adversary, because it better suits the idea of a judgment or trial. Instead of an advocate's standing at his right hand, as he in the last verse of the psalm intimates God would do for him, he wishes an adversary to stand there, to push the affair against him to the utmost, with a wicked unmerciful man to judge him. Mr. Green, following Dr. Sykes, understands it in a different way, as if these were the words and wishes of David's enemies against him, not of David against his enemies. "Set a wicked man over him, say they, to hear his cause, and let a false accuser, &c." And indeed there seems great probability in this interpretation; as David in the 21st verse, and so on to the end of the psalm, appeals to God from these imprecations of his enemies, and intreats him to bless, although they curse him. In this view it is remarkably striking, that the curses vainly uttered by David's enemies against him should reverberate upon their own heads, and be so singularly verified in the type. See Sykes's Introduction to his Paraphrase on the Hebrews, page 32.

Verse 10

Psalms 109:10. Let them seek their bread Let them be driven from their ruinous habitations. Green.

Verse 11

Psalms 109:11. Let the extortioner catch Or, Let the usurer extort.

Verse 16

Psalms 109:16. That he might even slay the broken in heart And broken in heart, to slay him.

Verse 18

Psalms 109:18. Like oil into his bones These expressions admirably mark out an adhering rooted curse, which penetrated the body, as the water which one drinks, and as the oil with which one is rubbed: They have swallowed cursing like water; they are penetrated by it, as by the oil wherewith they have been anointed. Calmet. Houbigant thinks that the waters of jealousy are here meant. See Numbers 5:18. And Green renders it, with much seeming propriety, like marrow into his bones.

Verse 20

Psalms 109:20. Let this be the reward, &c.— This shall, or will be the reward, &c. Thus David, in prophesy, foresees that the curses vented by his enemies against himself, would reverberate upon their own heads. See the note on Psalms 109:6. There are some, however, who would render the words: This is the behaviour of mine adversaries, with respect to, or before Jehovah. See Kennicott's Dissert. Psalms 5:2 : p. 582.

Verse 23

Psalms 109:23. I am tossed up and down as the locust I am driven away, or shaken off like the locust. Green and Mudge. Dr. Shaw, speaking of the large and numerous swarms of locusts in Barbary, says, "When the wind blew briskly, so that these swarms were crowded by others, or thrown one upon another, we had a lively idea of that comparison of the Psalmist's being tossed up and down as the locust." See Travels, p. 187.

Verse 31

Psalms 109:31. He shall stand at the right hand of the poor That is, to defend, and plead for him. As the accuser stood at the right hand, Psa 109:6 so shall God also stand there, as this poor and distressed man's advocate, to maintain him against the injurious charge brought against him. The word condemn should rather be rendered oppose, or pursue his soul, or life, i.e. plead against him, so as to call his life in question. Though it was in war, not in judicature, that David's enemies thus contended with him, yet one of these is poetically expressed by the other; their hostile opposition, by words which are only forensic.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, The Psalmist, in the person of the Messiah, addresses his prayer to God, under the oppressions of the wicked.

1. He lodges his appeal with God, under the calumnies of his enemies. Hold not thy peace, as if disregarding his sufferings, O God of my praise or my glorying; for even the Lord Jesus, as man, regarded his father as the object of his worship and glory.

2. He describes the invenomed malice of his enemies, from whose violence he sought deliverance. Wicked in temper and practice, deceitful, with fairest professions covering the blackest designs; liars, whose tongues distilled poison into the incautious ear; filled with hatred, restlesly bent on mischief, they compassed him about; and violent, they with causeless rage fought against him; returned his love with ingratitude and enmity, and rendered evil for the good he shewed them. Thus was Jesus treated; reviled, traduced, betrayed by him who called him master, but sought only to ensnare him: things laid to his charge that he knew not; persecuted, though innocent, with the most implacable vengeance; all his love repaid with hatred; and the astonishing miracles of kindness that he wrought exasperating the resentment of his enemies, and returned by an ignominious crucifixion.

3. Under these trials, prayer was his recourse. I give myself unto prayer, or I am a man of prayer; herein he exercised himself day and night, and even on the cross ceased not to cry, "Father, forgive them." May we learn of our divine Lord thus to pray for those who despitefully use and persecute us!

2nd, They who have blamed David's spirit, as if he appeared vindictive, have mistaken him greatly. When he speaks as a prophet, he foresees and foretels what would be the end of the wicked: when he speaks in the person of the Son of God, he denounces the just judgment due to the children of perdition. Terrible are the woes herein contained; Judas felt them: may we never, by like transgressions, provoke the same punishment.
3rdly, We have the Incarnate Redeemer's complaint and prayer, and his joy in being heard and answered.
1. His condition is very distressing: poor and needy, born in a stable, and having no place to lay his head; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; his heart wounded with bitterest indignities, and more deeply still with the wrath of God due to the sins that he bore: hurried to the grave by a violent death, as the declining shadow: tossed to and fro, from Pilate to Herod, from Annas to Caiaphas: weak with fasting, and his body emaciated: reproached as a Samaritan, a magician, a mover of sedition, and, even on the cross, insulted by those who shook their heads at him, mocking at his high pretensions of being the Son of God. Note; If our Head thus suffered, let not his members murmur at their lot, under the pressures of poverty, a decaying body, or a reviling world: Jesus hath endured the cross before us.

2. His prayer is very importunate. Deliver, help, and save me: and to this end he pleads God's own glory concerned in vindicating his righteous cause; his mercy, ever ready to succour the poor destitute. Such interposition also would carry conviction of God's interesting himself on his behalf; others would acknowledge his hand, and these enemies themselves be confounded and ashamed: ashamed as penitent; or confounded as criminals. Thus, if God helped and blessed him, he could sit easy under the curses of his enemies, well knowing how impotent they were, and only big with vengeance on themselves. Note; (1.) If God bless us, we need not care how much men curse us. (2.) All our hope must be placed on God's boundless mercy and grace: he alone can help and save us, not we ourselves.

3. His joy is great in the Lord. Among the multitude he will lift up his voice; yea, aloud his praises shall be heard for this great salvation of God. For he shall stand at the right hand of the poor, his Messiah, and all his poor people, to support and protect them; to save him from those that condemn his soul; as he did when he raised up Jesus from the dead, and set him at his own right hand; and as he will do with all his persecuted, faithful, and suffering disciples at the last day, when none shall appear to lay one charge against them, and all their former adversaries shall be found liars.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 109". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.