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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 141

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

Verses 1-10

Psalms 141:1-10. Title. This Psalm is generally allowed to have been written by David, when driven among the Philistines, by the implacable persecution of Saul. (Notes, 1 Samuel 27:1-12:) ’ Nobody need wonder, that there are so * many prayers founded upon the same subject; for that ’ persecution endured long, and they were made upon different occasions, or for different purposes.’ Bp. Patrick.

V. 1,2. Note,Psalms 71:12. Let my prayer, &c. (2) Or, " My prayer shall be set before thee, as incense, &c." When driven from the courts of the Lord, and the communion of his people, the Psalmist purposed to be as regular and constant at his devotions, as the priests were in burning incense, and offering the sacrifices morning and evening : and he prayed, that his fervent supplications might be accepted, even as if presented at the sanctuary ; being offered with a believing reference to the typical expiation and intercession there made. (Notes, 1 Kings 8:28-30.) It is probable, that this psalm was composed at the time of the morning or of the evening sacrifice, or intended to be used at these hours of prayer. ’ He begs that ’ God would accept of all that it was in his power to perform, ’ namely, the devotion of his heart, and the elevation of ’ his hands ; ...that the one might ascend to heaven fragrant ’ and well-pleasing, as the cloud of incense, ...and the other ’ in conjunction with it, prevail instead of the evening oblation, for the deliverance of himself and his companions.’ Bp. Horne. The word instead, in this quotation, seems inappropriate. David intended to present his sacrifices of praise and prayer, through, not instead of, the instituted typical atonements and burning of incense. Thus our ’ spiritual sacrifices,’ of which similar language is used in the New Testament are " acceptable to God through " Jesus Christ." (Philippians 4:18. Notes, Colossians 3:16-17. Hebrews 13:15-16. 1 Peter 2:4-6 v.5.) The original word indeed does not generally mean the burnt-offering itself, but the ineat-offering which accompanied it. (Numbers 28:4-5.)

V. 3, 4. David, surrounded by idolaters, (who would watch all his words and actions, suspect him as a spy or an enemy, or want to draw him into idolatry,) besought God to enable him so to bridle his tongue, that he might not give them any advantage against him ; (Marg. Ref. Notes, Psalms 39:1-4 ;) and so to govern and rule his heart, that he might not be seduced into any sinful compliances. In such company he feared lest he should be tempted to trifle, to dissemble, or to speak inconsistently with his character, as a zealous worshipper of the true God ; or, as some think, lest he should be led to express his sense of the ill usage which he had received from Saul, in an unbecoming manner : and therefore he prayed for a guard to be placed before his mouth. He was also aware that corrupt examples, continually before his eyes, might gradually draw him aside ; and he prayed that his heart might not be inclined to any evil thing, or to join the impieties and iniquities of the Philistines ; and that he might not be tempted, by their idolatrous feasts, or hospitable and luxurious entertainments, to eat of such things as were forbidden by the

law of God. ’ A Christian living amongst unbelievers and ’ sensualists, ... hath abundant reason to put up the same ’ prayers, and to use the same precautions.’ Bp. Home.

(Notes, Proverbs 23:1-3; Proverbs 23:6-8.) Incline not, &c. (4) This evidently means, ’ Keep my heart so, that I may not ’ be suffered to incline to evil.’ (Notes, Psalms 119:36. Deuteronomy 2:30. 1 Kings 8:55-61, v 58. Isaiah 63:15-19.)

V. 5. Jealous of himself in so ensnaring a situation, the Psalmist prayed, that some pious friend might ever be present to reprove him sharply, if he yielded to temptation. This he would take as a kindness ; sensible that it would neither break his head, nor cause him to hang it down in dejection : but, being insinuating and healing, like an excellent oil, it would be very useful to him ; and he would requite the benefit by praying for them in their calamities, if he had no other way of expressing his gratitude. (Notes, 1 Samuel 25:23-33.) Or it may mean, that this would enable him more fervently, and as with renewed vigour, to pray against their wickedness, (that of the idolaters,) which he had been almost induced to imitate. Perhaps David obliquely hinted at the slanders of Saul and his party ; from which he distinguished the censures of the pious Israelites, who might blame him for going into the land of the Philistines. (Marg. Ref.)

V. 6. This verse may mean, according to our translation, that David, foreseeing the ruin of Saul and his party, the present "judges" of Israel j as if they had been cast from the sides of a rock, or cut in pieces in rocky places by the enemy, without being able to escape ; hoped, that the Israelites would then hearken to his salutary admonitions, which they now disregarded. ’ The people which followed their wicked rulers in persecuting the prophet, shall repent and turn to God, when they see their wicked rulers punished.’ ’ When literally rendered from the Hebrew, it runs thus: " Their judges have been dismissed in the sides of the rock, and have heard my ’ " words, that they were sweet." David, reflecting on ’ Saul’s cruelty in driving him out of his country, ... mentions his own different behaviour towards that implacable ’ enemy, whose life he had spared at two several times, ’ when he had it in his power to destroy him. ...Their ’ judges, or princes, leaders, generals, &c. according to the ’ frequent usage of the word in Scripture, " have ’ " been dismissed " (the common signification of the ’ verb BO ,) " in the sides of the rock," when I had them ’ at an advantage there, ...and ... they only heard me expostulate with them in a ’manner so mild and humble, that ’ even Saul himself was overcome, and " lift up his voice ’ " and wept." ... Such hath been my conduct towards the ’ servants of Saul. Yet how have my people, alas, been ’ by them most miserably butchered ! ’ Bp. Home. (Notes, 1 Samuel 24:2-6:)

V. 7- This probably refers to the slaughter of the hundred and eighty-five priests, and their families, by Doeg at Saul’s command, because they were supposed to favour David. The bones of this company, murdered on his account, were thrown at the grave’s mouth, as plentifully, and as disregarded, as the chips are scattered about by one that " cleaveth wood upon the earth." (Notes, Psalms 44:17-22. 1 Samuel 22:7-19. Romans 8:35-39.) In this verse the word ; certainly means the grave.

V. 8, 9. ’ The principle upon which David acted, and ’ supported himself under his troubles, was a firm trust in ’ God, and a steady resolution to obey him.’ Bp. Home.

(Marg. Ref. Note, Psalms 123:1-2.)’ Not only preserve me from the snares, which my persecutors have laid for me ; but likewise from the allurements of all other wicked men, especially the idolatrous Philistines among whom I sojourn.’

V. 10. David ’ escaped all the snares that when laid ’ for him on every side ; he lived to see the death of Saul, ’ who fell in a battle with the Philistines, and those Philistines subdued by himself and his subjects.’ Bp. Home. " The wicked shall fall, &c." (Marg-. Ref.}


The believer maintains communion with his God, wherever he goes ; the greater his trials become, the more fervent will his prayers be ; and when they are presented through the Saviour’s oblation and intercession, they are as acceptable to God, as the daily sacrifices and burning of incense were of old. We always need to pray that the Lord would " set a watch before the door of our lips ; " but especially when we are constrained to associate with ungodly men ; where we shall continually be urged to speak, and tempted to speak improperly, out of fear, shame, or complaisance ; and where we can scarcely speak at all, without giving them some cause of error, prejudice, or offence. If surrounded by contagious examples, we shall likewise have especial cause to " keep our hearts with " all diligence," and to pray continually, that they may not be " inclined to any evil thing, or to practise wicked " works with men that work iniquity." Our appetites also must be bridled ; lest they be bribed by their luxuries, or we be prevailed upon by seducing solicitations, to sanction their excesses or iniquities, by the least approach to inor-

dinate indulgence. (P. O. Proverbs 23:1-18.) If it be our trial to be cast into such a situation, we may expect that the Lord will preserve us in it ; though it will require extraordinary watchfulness, and constancy in prayer, and though we are generally most remiss on such occasions : but if any from carnal motives run themselves into such temptations, they seldom escape unpolluted or unwounded. In all places, however, we should fear sin more than suffering ; and rather be desirous to honour God, than to recommend or advance ourselves. Such desires will not only dictate our prayers ; but induce us to welcome the rebukes of our heavenly Father, and also the reproofs of our brethren. We should indeed study to profit by the reproaches of our enemies, and by the severe rebukes of those who mean well, but are unskilful: but that reproof, which is given with prudence, meekness, piety, and affection, insinuates and lubricates like a healing ointment; it causes little pain or irritation, and produces abundant good : and no benefactors are more entitled to our gratitude and our prayers, than reprovers of this character ; because none serve us in a more disinterested and self-denying manner. Yet alas ! flatterers are generally more favoured, even by professed Christians and by many who may be looked upon in the main, as real Christians ! and this plain dealing is lamentably sunk into disuse, to the unspeakable detriment of true piety. We should be unwearied in our endeavours to do good : those instructive and affectionate words, which sinners despised in their prosperity, may perhaps be attended to in adversity ; or when the ruin of ringleaders or associates in iniquity, concurs in shewing them their danger and misery : and we ought patiently to watch for such opportunities. Nor should any injuries make us reluctant to do good to our opponents ; even though they have wasted the church, as king Saul, and as Saul of Tarsus did, till the bones of the ministers and people of God lie scattered abroad, as the chips around him who hews wood. Indeed, if we be not exposed to such calamities, our bones will soon lie scattered at the mouth of the grave ; and others will moralize over them, as we are wont to do, when we traverse a burying ground, and behold an opened grave. Let us then lift our eyes unto GOD the Lord, and trust in him that our souls shall not then be left destitute or " made bare : " (Marg. Note, 2 Corinthians 5:14:) and let us intreat him to rescue us from the snares of Satan and of all the workers of iniquity, that we may escape, and be blessed for ever, while the wicked fall into their own nets and perish.

Bibliographical Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 141". Scott's Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tsp/psalms-141.html. 1804.
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