Matthew Poole's Commentary
To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. Deliver me, O LORD, from the evil man: preserve me from the violent man;THE ARGUMENT
This Psalm was composed by David upon occasion of those slanderous and reproachful speeches and treacherous dealings which David had from his enemies in Saul’s tithe, of which we have an account in the history.
The psalmist prayeth for deliverance and safety from wicked men, Psalm 140:1-7, for judgment upon them, Psalm 140:8-11, and comforteth himself with an assurance of God’s righteousness, Psalm 140:12,13.
Either Saul or Doeg, or some other malicious enemy, or rather enemies; the word man being taken collectively for men, as appears from the next verse, where he speaks of this man in the plural number.
Which imagine mischiefs in their heart; continually are they gathered together for war.To execute those bloody enterprises which they had devised in the first clause of this verse.
They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adders' poison is under their lips. Selah.They have sharpened their tongues; their malicious hearts stirred up their tongues to utter vile slanders against me. Like a serpent; either whetting their tongues, as serpents are said to whet theirs when they are about to bite; or rather, using words as sharp and piercing as the sting of a serpent.
Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from the violent man; who have purposed to overthrow my goings.Whose design and full resolution it is, if thou dost not prevent it, to overthrow my goings, or my feet or footsteps, i.e. to throw me down to the ground, to defeat all my hopes and counsels, and bring me to ruin.
The proud have hid a snare for me, and cords; they have spread a net by the wayside; they have set gins for me. Selah.The proud; my insolent enemies, who despise me for my meanness, and exalt themselves against thee.
By the wayside; in which I used to walk.
I said unto the LORD, Thou art my God: hear the voice of my supplications, O LORD.No text from Poole on this verse.
O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation, thou hast covered my head in the day of battle.With thy powerful protection, as with a helmet or shield.
Grant not, O LORD, the desires of the wicked: further not his wicked device; lest they exalt themselves. Selah.His wicked device; which is to destroy me.
Exalt themselves; not only against me, but against thee also, as if by their power and policy they had frustrated thy design and promise made to me.
As for the head of those that compass me about, let the mischief of their own lips cover them.The head; or, heads; the singular number put for the plural, as is frequent. By which he understands either,
1. Their politic heads, their chiefs or ringleaders, who were most malicious, and by whom all the rest were supported and stirred up: or,
2. Their proper and natural heads, as this word is used Psalm 140:7; and this covering of their heads here is opposed to the covering of David’s head there.
Let the mischief of their own lips cover them; let the mischief which by their calumnies they design against me fall upon themselves.
Let burning coals fall upon them: let them be cast into the fire; into deep pits, that they rise not up again.Burning coals; Divine vengeance, which is compared to coals of fire, as Psalm 18:12, and elsewhere.
Rise not up again; either to my danger, or their own comfort.
Let not an evil speaker be established in the earth: evil shall hunt the violent man to overthrow him.An evil speaker; such as slander me and other innocent persons, to exasperate princes against us.
Evil; either the evil of punishment; or, which comes to the same thing, the evil of sin, their own wickedness, which shall recoil upon themselves.
I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and the right of the poor.I know, both by God’s word, which hath promised it, and by my own experience of it in the course of God’s providence.
Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name: the upright shall dwell in thy presence.Shall give thanks unto thy name; shall have occasion to praise thee for their deliverance.
Shall dwell in thy presence; shall constantly enjoy thy gracious and powerful presence and assistance.