(The following texts highlighted in this color of blue is taken from
The Treasury of David by Charles Haddon Spurgeon) "Excerpted text
Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved. Materials are reproduced
Title. A Psalm of David. Here is all we know concerning this Psalm, but
internal evidence seems to fix the date of its composition in those troublous
times when Saul hunted David over hill and dale, and when those who
fawned upon the cruel king, slandered the innocent object of his wrath, or
it may be referred to the unquiet days of frequent insurrections in David's
old age. The whole Psalm is the appeal to heaven of a bold heart and a
clear conscience, irritated beyond measure by oppression and malice.
Beyond a doubt David's Lord may be seen here by the spiritual eye.
Divisions. The most natural mode of dividing this Psalm is to note its triple
character. Its complaint, prayer, and promise of praise are repeated with
remarkable parallelism three times, even as our Lord in the Garden prayed
three times, using the same words. The first portion occupies from vs.1-10,
the second from vs.11-18, and the last from vs.19-28; each section ending
with a note of grateful song.
1 “Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me:” - Plead
against those who plead against me; strive with my strivers; contend with
my contenders. If they urge their suit in the law court, Lord, meet them
there, and beat them at their own weapons. Every saint of God shall have
this privilege: “the accuser of the brethren” - (Satan – Revelation 12:10) –
shall be met by “the Advocate of the saints” – Jesus Christ, the righteous –
(I John 2:1) - “fight against them that fight against me.” - If my advisers
try force as well as fraud, be a match for them; oppose thy strength to their
strength. Jesus does this for all His beloved--for them He is both intercessor
and champion; whatever aid they need they shall receive from Him, and in
whatever manner they are assaulted they shall be effectually defended. Let
us not fail to leave our case into the Lord's hand. Vain is the help of man, but
ever effectual is the interposition of heaven. What is here asked for as a boon,
may be regarded as a promise to all the saints; in judgment they shall have
a divine advocate, in warfare a divine protection.
2 “Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help.” In
vivid metaphor the Lord is pictured as coming forth armed for battle, and
interposing Himself between His servant and his enemies. The greater and
lesser protections of providence may be here intended by the two defensive
weapons, and by the Lord's standing up is meant His active and zealous
preservation of His servant in the perilous hour. This poetic imagery shows
how the psalmist realized the existence and power of God; and thought of
Him as a real and actual personage, truly working for His afflicted.
3 “Draw out also the spear, and stop the way against them that
persecute me:” - Before the enemy comes to close quarters the Lord can push
them off as with a long spear. To stave off trouble is no mean act of
loving-kindness. As when some valiant warrior with his lance blocks up a
defile, and keeps back a host until his weaker brethren have made good
their escape, so does the Lord often hold the believer's foes at bay until the
good man had taken breath, or clean fled from his foes. He often gives the
a glorious idea is this of Jehovah blocking the way of persecutors, holding
them at the pike's end, and giving time for the hunted saint to elude the
pursuit! -“say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.” Besides holding off the
enemy, the Lord can also calm the mind of His servant by express assurance
from His own mouth, that he is, and shall be, safe under the Almighty wing. An
inward persuasion of security in God is of all things the most precious in
the furnace of persecution. One word from the Lord quiets all our fears.
4 “Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul:
let them be turned back and brought to confusion that devise my hurt.”
There is nothing malicious here, the slandered man simply craves for
justice, and the petition is natural and justifiable. Guided by God's good
spirit the psalmist foretells the everlasting confusion of all the haters of the
righteous. Shameful disappointment shall be the portion of the enemies of
the gospel, nor would the most tender hearted Christian have it otherwise:
viewing sinners as men, we love them and seek their good, but regarding
them as enemies of God, we cannot think of them with anything but
detestation, and a loyal desire for the confusion of their devices. No loyal
subject can wish well to rebels. Squeamish sentimentality may object to the
strong language here used, but in their hearts all good men wish confusion
to mischief makers.
5 “Let them be as chaff before the wind:” - They were swift enough to
attack, let them be as swift to flee. Let their own fears and the alarms of
their consciences unman them so that the least breeze of trouble shall carry
them hither and thither. Ungodly men are worthless in character, and light
in their behavior, being destitute of solidity and fixedness; it is but just
that those that make themselves chaff should be treated as such. When this
imprecation is fulfilled in graceless men, they will find it an awful thing to
be for ever without rest, without peace of mind, or stay of soul, hurried
from fear to fear, and from misery to misery - “and let the angel of the
Lord chase them.” Fallen angels shall haunt them, good angels shall afflict them.
To be pursued by avenging spirits will be the lot of those who delight in persecution.
Observe the whole scene as the psalmist sketches it: the furious foe is first held at
bay, then turned back, then driven to headlong flight, and chased by fiery messengers
from whom there is no escape, while his pathway becomes dark and dangerous, and
his destruction overwhelming.
6 “Let their way be dark and slippery:” - What terrors are gathered
here! No light, no foothold, and a fierce avenger at their heels! What a
doom is appointed for the enemies of God! They may rage and rave today,
but how altered will be their plight ere long! - “and let the angel of the
Lord persecute them.” He will follow them hot foot, as we say, never turning
aside, but like a trusty pursuivant serving the writ of vengeance upon them, and
arresting them in the name of unflinching justice. Woe, woe, woe, unto those
who touch the people of God; their destruction is both swift and sure.
7 In this verse the psalmist brings forward the gravamen of his charge
against the servants of the devil. “For without cause” - without my having injured,
assailed, or provoked them; out of their own spontaneous malice “have they hid for
me their net in a pit, which without cause they have digged for my soul”.
Even as men hunt for their game with cunning and deception. Innocent persons have
often been ruined by traps set for them, into which they have fallen as guilelessly as
beasts which stumble into concealed pits, and are taken as in a net. It is no little thing
to be able to feel that the enmity which assails us is undeserved-- not caused by any
willful offense on our part. Twice does David assert in one verse that his adversaries
plotted against him without cause. Net making and pit digging require time and
labor, and both of these the wicked will expend cheerfully if they may but
overthrow the people of God. Fair warfare belongs to honorable men, but
the assailants of God's church prefer mean, ungenerous schemes, and so
prove their nature and their origin. We must all of us be on our guard, for
gins and pitfalls are still the favorite weapons of the powers of evil.
8 “Let destruction come upon him at unawares;” - This tremendous
imprecation is frequently fulfilled. God's judgments are often sudden and
signal. Death enters the persecutor's house without pausing to knock
at the door. The thunderbolt of judgment leaps from its hiding place, and in one
crash the wicked are broken for ever - “and let his net that he hath hid catch
himself: into that very destruction let him fall.” There is a lex talionis (the
law of retaliation – an eye for an eye) with God which often works most
wonderfully. Men set traps and catch their own fingers. They throw up
stones, and they fall upon their own heads. How often Satan outwits
himself, and burns his fingers with his own coals! This will doubtless be
one of the aggravations of hell, that men will torment themselves with what
was once the fond devices of their rebellious minds. They curse and are
cursed; they kick the pricks and tear themselves; they pour forth floods of
fire, and it burns within and without.
9 “And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord:” - Thus rescued, David
ascribes all the honor to the Judge of the right; to his own valorous arm
he offers no sacrifice of boasting. He turns away from his adversaries to his
God, and finds a deep unbroken joy in Jehovah, and in that joy his spirit
revels - “it shall rejoice in His salvation.” We do not triumph in the destruction
of others, but in the salvation given to us of God. Prayer heard should always
suggest praise. It were well if we were more demonstrative in our holy
rejoicing. We rob God by suppressing grateful emotions.
10 As the tongue were not enough to bless God with, David makes every limb
vocal - “All my bones shall say, Lord, who is like unto thee?” His whole
anatomy he would make resonant with gratitude. Those bones which were to have
been broken by my enemies shall now praise God; every one of them shall bring
its tribute, ascribing unrivalled excellence to Jehovah the Savior of His people.
Even if worn to skin and bone, yet my very skeleton shall magnify the Lord,
“which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him, yea, the
poor and the needy from him that spoileth him.” God is the champion, the
true knight errant of all oppressed ones. Where there is so much condescension,
justice, kindness, power, and compassion, the loftiest songs should be rendered.
Come, dear reader, have you not been delivered from sin, Satan, and death, and will
not you bless the Redeemer? You were poor and weak, but in due time Christ sought
you, and set you free. O magnify the Lord today, and speak well of His name.
11 “False witnesses did rise up;” - This is the old device of the ungodly,
and we must not wonder if it be used against us as against our Master. To
please Saul, there were always men to be found mean enough to impeach
David - “they laid to my charge things that I knew not.” He had not even
a thought of sedition; he was loyal even to excess; yet they accused him of
conspiring against the Lord's anointed. He was not only innocent, but ignorant of the
fault alleged. It is well when our hands are so clean that no trace of dirt is upon them.
12 “They rewarded me evil for good” - This is devilish; but men have learned the
lesson well of the old Destroyer, and practice it most perfectly - “to the spoiling of
my soul.” They robbed him of comfort, and even would have taken his life had it not
been for special rescues from the hand of God. The wicked would strip the righteous
naked to their very soul: they know no pity. There are only such limits to human malice
as God Himself may see fit to place.
13 “But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth:” -
David had been a man of sympathy; he had mourned when Saul was in ill
health, putting on the weeds of sorrow for him as though he were a near
and dear friend. His heart went into mourning for his sick master - “I humbled
my soul with fasting;” - He prayed for his enemy, and made the sick
man's case his own, pleading and confessing as if his own personal sin had
brought on the evil. This showed a noble spirit in David, and greatly
aggravated the baseness of those who now so cruelly persecuted him -
“and my prayer returned into mine own bosom.” Prayer is never lost: if it
bless not those for whom intercession is made, it shall bless the intercessors.
Clouds do not always descend in showers upon the same spot from which the
vapors ascended, but they come down somewhere; and even so do supplications
in some place or other yield their showers of mercy. If our dove find no rest for
the sole of her foot among our enemies, it shall fly into our bosoms and bring an
olive branch of peace in its mouth. How sharp is the contrast all through this Psalm
between the righteous and his enemies! We must be earnest to keep the line of
demarcation broad and clear.
14 “I behaved myself as though he has been my friend or brother:” –
I waited upon him assiduously, comforted him affectionately, and
sympathized with him deeply. This may refer to those days when David
played on the harp, and chased away the evil spirit from Saul - “I bowed
down heavily, as one that mourneth for his mother.” He bowed his
head as mourners do. The strongest natural grief was such as he felt when
they were in trouble. The mother usually wins the deepest love, and her
loss is most keenly felt: such was David's grief. How few professors in
these days have such bowels of compassion; and yet under the gospel there
should be far more tender love than under the law. Had we more hearty
love to manhood, and care for its innumerable ills, we might be far more
useful; certainly we should be infinitely more Christ like. "He prayeth best
that lovest best."
15 “But in mine adversity they rejoiced,” - In my halting they were
delighted. My lameness was sport to them. Danger was near, and they sang
songs over my expected defeat. How glad are the wicked to see a good
man limp! "Now, "say they, "he will meet with his downfall - “and gathered
themselves together:” - like kites and vultures around a dying sheep. They
found a common joy in my ruin, and a recreation in my sorrow, and therefore
met together to keep the feast. They laid their heads together to devise, and
their tongues to deceive -“yea, the abjects gathered themselves together
against me,” - Those who deserved horsewhipping, fellows the soles of whose
feet were needing the bastinado, came together to plot, and held hole and corner
meetings. Like curs around a sick lion, the mean wretches taunted and insulted
one whose name had been their terror. The very cripples hobbled out to join the
malicious crew. How unanimous are the powers of evil; how heartily do
men serve the devil; and none decline his service because they are not endowed
with great abilities! “and I knew it not;” - It was all done behind my back.
What a fluster the world may be in, and the cause of it all may not even know
that he has given offence -“they did tear me, and ceased not.” It is such
dainty work to tear to pieces a good man's character, that when slanderers have
their hand in they are loath to leave off. A pack of dogs tearing their prey is
nothing compared with a set of malicious gossips mauling the reputation of a
worthy man. That lovers of the gospel are not at this time rent and torn as in the
old days of Mary, is to be attributed to the providence of God rather than to
the gentleness of men.
16 “With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon me with
their teeth.” Like professional buffoons who grin around the banquet to
make sport, so they made a business of jeering at the good man; not,
however, out of mirth, but from violent, insatiable hatred. Like cake
scoffers, or men who will jeer for a bit of bread, these hireling miscreants
persecuted David in order to get a bellyful for themselves from Saul's table:
having moreover an inward grudge against the son of Jesse because he was
a better man than themselves. Very forcibly might our Lord have used the
words of these verses! Let us not forget to see the Despised and Rejected
of men here painted to the life.
cross seem brought before our eyes.
17 “Lord, how long wilt thou look on?” Why be a mere spectator? Why
so neglectful of thy servant? Art thou indifferent? Carest thou not that we
perish? We may thus reason with the Lord. He permits us this familiarity.
There is a time for our salvation, but to our impatience it often seems to be
very slow in coming; yet wisdom has ordained the hour, and nothing shall
delay it. “Rescue my soul from their destructions,” - From their many
devices; their multiplied assaults, be pleased to set me free. "My darling,"
my lovely, only, precious soul, do thou rescue "from the lions." His enemies
were fierce, cunning, and strong as young lions; God only could deliver him
from their jaws, to God he therefore addresses himself.
18 "I will give thee thanks in the great congregation:" Notable
deliverances must be recorded, and their fame emblazoned. All the saints
should be informed of the Lord's goodness. The theme is worthy of the
largest assembly, the experience of a believer is a subject fit for an
assembled universe to hear of. Most men publish their griefs, good men
should proclaim their mercies. ["I will praise thee among much people."]
Among friends and foes will I glorify the God of my salvation. Praise —
personal praise, public praise, perpetual praise — should be the daily
revenue of the King of heaven. Thus, for the second time, David's prayer
ends in praise, as indeed all prayers should.
19 He earnestly prays that as they have no cause for their enmity,
they may have no cause for triumph either in his folly, sin, or overthrow.
"Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me:
Neither let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause." The
winking of the eye was the low-bred sign of congratulation at the ruin of
their victim, and it may also have been one of their scornful gestures as
they gazed upon him whom they despised. To cause hatred is the mark of
the wicked, to suffer it causelessly is the lot of the righteous. God is the
natural Protector of all who are wronged, and He is the enemy of all oppressors.
20 "For they speak not peace:" They love it not; how can they
speak it? They are such troublers themselves that they cannot judge others
to be peaceable. Out of the mouth comes what is in the heart. (Matthew 12:34)
Riotous men charge others with sedition. "They devise deceitful matters
against them that are quiet in the land." David would fain have been an
orderly citizen, but they labored to make him a rebel. He could do nothing aright,
all his dealings were misrepresented. This is an old trick of the enemy to brand
good men with S.S. on their cheeks, as sowers of sedition, though they
have ever been a harmless race, like sheep among wolves. When mischief is
meant, mischief is soon made. Unscrupulous partisans could even charge
Jesus with seeking to overturn Cæsar, much more will they thus accuse His
household. At this very hour, those who stand up for the crown rights of
King Jesus are called enemies of the church, favorers of Popery, friends of
Atheists, levelers, red republicans, and it were hard to say what besides.
(a fish market in
vulgar language) and
21 "Yea, they opened their mouth wide against me," - As if they
would swallow him, uttering great lies which needed wide mouths. They
set no bounds to their infamous charges, but poured out wholesale abuse,
trusting that if all did not stick, some of it would - "And said, Aha, aha,
our eye hath seen it." Glad to find out a fault or a misfortune, or to swear
they had seen evil where there was none. (This sounds like modern politics
to me – CY – 2010) Malice has but one eye; it is blind to all virtue in its enemy.
Eyes can generally see what hearts wish. A man with a mote in his eye sees a
spot in the sun. How like a man is to an ass when he brays over another's
misfortunes! How like to a devil when he laughs a hyena-laugh over a
good man's slip! Malice is folly, and when it holds a festival its tones and
gestures far exceed all the freaks and mummeries of the lord of misrule.
22 "This thou hast seen, O Lord:" Here is comfort. Our heavenly
Father knows all our sorrow. Omniscience is the saint's candle which never
goes out. A father will not long endure to see his child abused. “Shall not
God avenge his own elect” (Luke 18:7) "Keep not silence:" Rebuke
thine enemies and mine, O Lord. A word will do it. Clear my character, comfort
my heart - "O Lord, be not far from me." Walk the furnace with me. Stand in
the pillory at my side. The sweet presence of God is the divine cordial of the
persecuted; His painful absence would be their deepest misery.
23 "Stir up thyself," - Be upon thy mettle. Prove that thou art no
indifferent witness to all this infamy - "and awake to my judgment," –
Take the sceptre and summon the great assize; vindicate justice, avenge
oppression. Do not tarry as men do who sleep - "Even unto my cause,
my God and my Lord." He claims a nearness to his God, he holds him
with both hands; he leaves his case with the righteous Judge. He begs
that the suit may be brought on, heard, tried, and verdict given. Well is it for
a man when his conscience is so clear that he dares to make such an appeal.
24 “Judge me, O Lord, my God, according to thy righteousness; and
let them not rejoice over me.” The appeal is here repeated; the plaintiff feels
that the joy of his accusers will be shortlived as soon as impartial justice rules.
The oppressors' wrong, the proud man's contumely, the fool's grimace — all, all
will cease when the righteous Lord sits down upon the judgment seat.
25 "Let them not say in their hearts, Ah, so would we have it: let
them not say, We have swallowed him up." Disappoint them of their prey
when their mouths are ready to swallow it. Saints are too dear a morsel for
the powers of evil; God will not give His sheep over to the wolfish jaws of
persecutors. Just when they are tuning their pipes to celebrate their victory,
they shall be made to laugh on the other side of their mouths. They are all
too sure, and too boastful; they reckon without their host: little do they
dream of the end which will be put to their scheming. Their bird shall be
flown, and they themselves shall be in the trap. The prayer of this text is a
promise. Even before the lips of the wicked can frame a speech of exultation,
they shall be disappointed; their heart-speech shall be forestalled, their wishes
frustrated, their knavish tricks exposed.
26 “Let them be ashamed and brought to confusion together that
rejoice at mine hurt: let them be clothed with shame and dishonor
that magnify themselves against me.” Here is the eternal result of all the
laborious and crafty devices of the Lord's enemies. God will make little of them,
though they "magnify themselves;" He will shame them for shaming His people,
bring them to confusion for making confusion, pull off their fine apparel and give
them a beggardly suit of dishonor, and turn all their rejoicing into weeping and
wailing, and gnashing of teeth. Truly, the saints can afford to wait.
27 "Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favor my righteous
cause." Even those who could not render him active aid, but in their hearts
favored him, David would have the Lord reward most abundantly. (see
Ezekiel 9:4 – CY – 2010) Men of tender heart set great store by the good wishes
and prayers of the Lord's people. Jesus also prizes those whose hearts are with His
cause. The day is coming when shouts of victory shall be raised by all who
are on Christ's side, for the battle will turn, and the foes of truth shall be
routed. "Yea, let them say continually, Let the Lord be magnified," He
would have their gladness contributory to the divine glory; they are not to shout to
David's praise, but for the honor of Jehovah. Such acclamations may fitly
be continued throughout time and eternity - "which hath pleasure in the
prosperity of His servant." They recognized David as the Lord's servant,
and saw with pleasure the Lord's favor to him. We can have no nobler title than
"servant of God," and no greater reward than for our Master to delight in our
prosperity. What true prosperity may be we are not always best able to judge.
We must leave that in Jesus' hand; He will not fail to rule all things for our highest
"For by His saints it stands confessed,
That what He does is always best."
28 “And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy
praise all the day long.” Unceasing praise is here vowed to the just and
gracious God. From morning till evening the grateful tongue would talk and sing, and
glorify the Lord. O for such a resolve carried out by us all!
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