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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 140

Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book PsalmsScott on the Psalms

Verses 1-13

Psalms 140:1-13: Title. It is evident that David composed this Psalm, when persecuted by Saul, slandered by Doeg, and betrayed by the Ziphites and others. (Notes,Psalms 52:1-9:) ’ When he came to his kingdom, and had settled the ser’ vice of God, in that manner which we read, 1 Chronicles 16:23: &c. he delivered it to the master of musick, to ’ be sung at certain times in the tabernacle. But it was ’ not found, I suppose, (any more than the two foregoing, ’ and the four following,) till some time after the other ’ books of Psalms were published ; and so were placed ’ here all together, by him that collected this book.’ Bp;. Patrick.

V. 1, 2. Saul, or Doeg, was " the evil man," and " the " man of violences : " but there were many others who concurred in all the designs formed against the life of David, and who were employed in devising plans for that purpose; (Notes, 1 Samuel 21:7; 1 Samuel 22:7-19; 1 Samuel 23:19-29:) as Caiaphae and Judas had many helpers, in their machinations against the life of the holy Jesus. (Marg. Ref.)

V. 3. ’ Slander and calumny must always precede and ’ accompany persecution, because malice itself cannot ex’ cite people against a good man, as such ; to do this he ’ must first be represented as a bad man. What can be said ’ of those who are busied in this manner, but that they are ’ " a generation of vipers," the brood of the old serpent, ’ that grand accuser and calumniator of the brethren ; having under their tongues a bag of poison, conveying instant death to the reputation on which they fasten ? Thus ’ David was hunted as a rebel, Christ was crucified as a

’ blasphemer, and the primitive Christians were tortured as ’ guilty of incest and murder.’ Bp. Home. ’ The tongue ’ of the serpent, or the teeth of the adder or viper, doth ’ not more effectually convey their poison into men’s bodies, ’ than they have infused their venomous slanders into the people’s minds.’ Bp. Patrick. (Notes,Psalms 57:3-5, Psalms 59:7; Psalms 64:2-5. Proverbs 12:18-19, Jeremiah 9:3-6. James 3:3-6.)

V. 4-6 . (Notes, 1. Psalms 10:2-13; Psalms 17:6-15; Psalms 141:8-10. Psalms 142:1-3.) ’ There is no hunter or fowler more industrious and cunning in laying snares and toils, in spreading ’ nets, or setting gins and traps, for the beasts or tne birds, ’ in the places which they are wont to frequent, than they ’ are to trace me in all my motions,-(l Sam. 23: 23,) and to invent all manner of wiles and subtle arts to surprise ’ me.’ Bp. Patrick. ’ Oh, how refined the policy, and un’ wearied the application, of our spiritual adversaries to over’ throw our goings in the path of life and salvation, to circumvent and to destroy us for ever ! How are the snares, ’ the nets, and the gins placed for us, by that cunning and ’ experienced artist, who takes care, that nothing should ’ appear in view, but the alluring baits of honour, pleasure and profit, while of the toils we have no notice, till we find ourselves entangled and caught in them. Who shall ’ preserve us thus walking in the midst of dangers ? He to ’ whom David... preferreth his prayer, and teacheth us to ’ do likewise.’ Bp. Home.

V. 7, 8, Notes, Psalms 94:20-21. Psalms 144:10. 2 Samuel 15:31. Covered my head, &c. (7) ’ He calleth to God with ’ lively faith, being assured of his mercies : because he ’ had before time proved, that God helped him ever in his ’ dangers.’ God is the Strength of our Salvation ; ’ nor ’ will he, for the glory of his name, grant their desires, or ’ permit their more secret " devices " and machinations to ’ work the destruction of his people ; lest they exalt them’ selves, as having frustrated his counsels for the redemp’ tion of his servants.’ Bp. Home. (Notes, 1 Samuel 17:34-37; 1 Samuel 17:45-53, 2 Corinthians 1:8-11.)

V. 9. Some render this verse " The poison of those " that compass me about, even the mischief of their own " lips, shall cover them." (Note, 3.) The original word translated " the head" signifies also poison; especially the poison of serpents, which is collected in their heads.

V. 10. ’ Their lips, which uttered mischief against ’ others, shall be the means of covering themselves with ’ confusion, when out of their own mouths they shall be ’judged. Those tongues, which have contributed to set ’ the world on fire, shall be tormented with the hot burning coals of eternal vengeance ; and they who, with so ( much eagerness and diligence, have prepared pits for the ’ destruction of their brethren, shall be cast into a deep ’ and bottomless pit, out of which they will not rise up again ’ any more for ever.’ Bp. Horne. All the verbs are future. Let them be cast.] Literally, " He shall cause them to " fall into the fire." (Note, Psalms 11:6. Psalms 120:4. Mark 9:43-50.)

V. 11. "A lying lip is but for a moment:" it serves a present purpose, and often proves for a while very successful ; but at length it defeats its own purposes, and never effects established prosperity. (Note, Proverbs 11:18-19.) The original is, " A man of tongue shall not be established, " &c." that is, one who does not bridle his tongue. (Notes, Psalms 39:1-4, Psalms 5:1. James 1:26; James 3:1-6.) The similitude of evil, or punishment, hunting the violent man, as the hounds do the fleeing animal, through all its windings and doublings, till they seize upon it and destroy it, is very

ernphatical. (Marg. Ref. Note, Proverbs 13:21.)

V. 12, 13. (Marg. Ref. Notes, Psalms 10:17-18. Psalms 102:13-22.) ’ The Almighty is the Patron of the injured and oppressed. ’ He will plead the cause of the meek and lowly, who are ’ used by the world, as their blessed Master was used be’ fore them. A day will come, when, delivered out of all ’ their troubles, they shall " give thanks unto thy name," ’ O Lord, and " dwell in thy presence " for evermore.’ Bp. Home. (Notes, Psalms 16:8-11, Psalms 5:11; John 14:2-3)


The seed of the old serpent, instigated by their father, will unite subtlety with violence, in executing the mischiefs which they have imagined in their hearts against the children of God : slanders will be devised to cloke their unprovoked malice : they will sharpen their tongues to ruin the reputation of the righteous, as the serpent’s fatal bite envenoms the blood ; for " adders’ poison is under " their lips." Especially they will lay artful stratagems to overthrow their goings, and to betray them into some real or seeming crime, which may furnish a plausible accusation against them. All this we have seen illustrated in the history of David the type ; but it is still more manifest in the history of Christ, the great Antitype. In such circumstances therefore we should especially watch and pray, that the Lord would " hold up our goings in his ways, " that our foot-steps slip not." He is " the Strength of salvation " to all, who trust and worship him as their God : he will hear their prayers, and cover their head in the day of battle : every former deliverance is an earnest of future and final victory : and they may unreservedly pray, that he would not grant the desires of the wicked, nor further their wicked devices, lest they grow more insolent. We may also be confident, that false accusers will, by their lies and perjuries, bring mischief upon themselves, even the burning coals of divine vengeance, which will sink them into the fire and deep pit of hell, to rise no more ; except timely repentance prevent the fatal doom. For " an evil speaker shall not be established in the earth : evil " shall hunt the violent man to overthrow him." But vhen the Lord has proved the faith and patience of his afflicted people, he will maintain their cause, and do them justice against their oppressors. And beyond all doubt, " the upright shall dwell in God’s presence," and give him thanks for evermore.

Bibliographical Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 140". Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tsp/psalms-140.html. 1804.
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