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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 64

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.

This psalm bears no historic indication of date or occasion, but is ascribed to David in the title, which all internal evidence corroborates. From the description given of enemies, and his exultant confidence in the interference of God, we must assign it to one of the two great trials of his life to the time of Saul or of Absalom; and in the absence of all recognition of personal guilt, confession of sin, official impeachment by his enemies, allusion to deliverances in earlier perils, such as occur in the saddened strains of his later trial, we are safe in placing it in the time of Saul. There is a naturalness and simplicity of description a freshness of faith and hope which intimate the earlier struggles and outgoings of his heart, probably that first great crisis when, having escaped from Gath and from Adullam, he heard, at Hareth, in the south of Judah, of the destruction of Nob and the plannings of Saul. See 1 Samuel 22:0.The matter of the psalm is divided into a prayer for help, Psalms 64:1; a description of his enemies, their character and methods, Psalms 64:2-6; his declared confidence of the divine interference for their overthrow, Psalms 64:7-8; and the happy result which shall be realized in the diffusion of honour and praise to God, and encouragement of the joy and faith of the righteous, Psalms 64:9-10

Verse 1

1. My prayer The word “prayer,” here, takes the sense of complaint, as in Psalms 55:2, and title of Psalms 102:0, “not in tones of pain, but in words.” Delitzsch.

Verse 2

2. Secret counsel Conspiracy, dark plotting.

Insurrection The word signifies a tumultuous assembly, a rushing together of the masses, as Psalms 2:1; a noisy crowd, Psalms 55:14. The secret counsel of Saul and the leaders of the nation gave birth to open demonstrations on the part of the people, both which are here deprecated.

Verse 3

3. Bend their bows Hebrew, They have bent their arrows. Same as “ bend the bow,” Psalms 7:13, or placing or aiming the arrow, Psalms 58:7.

Bitter words Better, a bitter word. An evil tongue is sharper than a sword, and “bitter words” enter deeper into the soul than barbed arrows.

Verse 4

4. Shoot in secret A mark at once of treachery, cowardice, and cruelty. See Psalms 10:8-10 and Psalms 11:2.

They… fear not “They cast their arrows at men because they are not seen by them, and they are not afraid of God, who does see them.” Phillips, Psalms 55:19

Verse 5

5. They encourage themselves They strengthen themselves in an evil plot or counsel. This “hand to hand” wickedness, (Proverbs 11:21,) this emboldening each other by mutual vows of support in crime, is the last degree of depravity.

They commune They reckon. “Each part of their evil plot being, as it were, carefully gone over and enumerated.” Perowne.

They say They say “in their heart,” within themselves, as Psalms 10:6.

Who shall see them Literally, Who will look to it; that is, judicially, in order to punish it. See Psalms 10:11; Psalms 10:13; Psalms 73:11; Psalms 94:7

Verse 6

6. They search out iniquities Mentally, and with great labour, they work out plans for accomplishing wicked ends, as Psalms 58:2.

They accomplish a diligent search Literally, they have accomplished a search searched out; that is, an exhaustive investigation. But the verb accomplished ( ended, finished) may be taken in the first person plural, as a soliloquy of the conspirators, thus: We have finished a plot thoroughly wrought out! which gives dramatic effect.

Both the inward thought The word “inward,” here, is the same as “ inward part,” Psalms 5:9, and is here synonymous with heart, the seat of thought and affection. The inward part of a man, even the heart, is deep. This is the reflection of David after reviewing the conduct of his enemies. See Jeremiah 17:9-10; Psalms 19:12; Psalms 139:23-24. The preparations of his enemies are ended. The crisis has come. It is now time for God to work.

Verse 7

7. But God shall shoot at them with an arrow Both the verbs in the two lines of this verse are in the past tense, and though the Hebrew gives an ambiguous idea as to interpunction, yet we should read:

But God hath shot at them an arrow,

Suddenly have come their wounds.

Thus, when they had completed their deep schemes when they had bent their bow to shoot in secret at the upright, (Psalms 64:3-4,) in a moment, by the unseen arrow of God, they received their own death wound. See Psalms 7:12; Psalms 38:2

Verse 8

8. Make their own tongue to fall upon themselves The evil which they had proposed to bring upon the righteous by false testimony and vile slander, shall be visited back upon themselves to their ruin. Psalms 7:16; Proverbs 12:13; Proverbs 18:7. “They were thinking of wounding the upright, but behold they are wounded themselves.” Hengstenberg.

All that see them shall flee As the people fled at the cry of Korah and his company when they saw them swallowed up alive. Numbers 16:34. But the word translated flee, signifies, radically, to move to and fro, to shake; and hence, also, to wag or shake the head in derisive triumph, as in Jeremiah 18:16; Jeremiah 48:27, in which latter it is translated in our English Bible, “skippedst for joy.” See also Psalm 14:14. So Furst translates the text, “All that look upon them shake [the head].” In this sense the looking upon them signifies, “the gratification of looking upon those who are justly punished, and rendered harmless.” Delitzsch. See Psalms 59:10; Psalms 92:11

Verse 9

9. All men shall fear The wicked no less than the righteous shall recognise this judgment as of God. Psalms 53:5.

And shall declare See on Psalms 58:11

Verse 10

10. The righteous shall be glad… trust… glory On “glory,” see Psalms 63:11. The effect of the divine judgment in the overthrow of his enemies would cause the wicked to fear and confess God, and the righteous to rejoice, trust, and give praise.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 64". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/psalms-64.html. 1874-1909.