Verse 1. - Lord, I cry unto thee; make haste unto me. The need is pressing and urgent. God is therefore entreated to "hasten" (comp. Psalm 22:19; Psalm 31:2; Psalm 38:22; Psalm 40:17, etc.). Give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee (comp. Psalm 102:2).
Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
Verse 2. - Let my prayer be set forth (or, "established") before thee as incense; i.e. with the regularity of the incense, and with its acceptableness. And the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. The hands were "lifted up" in prayer, which was reckoned a serf of sacrifice (Hosea 14:2).
Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.
Verse 3. - Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips (comp. Psalm 39:1). David's was a hasty, impetuous temper, which required sharp control. He strove to "keep his own mouth with a bridle" - to " be dumb with silence, and hold his peace" - but this was not always possible for him of his own unassisted strength. He therefore makes his prayer to God for the Divine help.
Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties.
Verse 4. - Incline not my heart to any evil thing; i.e. let not my heart be inclined to any form of evil. To practice wicked works (rather, wicked practices) with men that work iniquity; and let me not eat of their dainties. Let me not be drawn in to their life of sinful luxury.
Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.
Verse 5. - Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness; rather, let the righteous smite me kindly, as in the margin. And let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head; rather, which my head shall not refuse. The psalmist will prefer the reproof of the righteous to the dainty allurements of the wicked. He will regard their words as an oil of welcome, such as was poured upon the head of favored guests (Luke 7:36), and his head will not refuse it. For yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities; rather, their wickednesses. This healing oil will strengthen him to continue to pray for his enemies, even though they still continue in their "wickednesses."
When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear my words; for they are sweet.
Verse 6. - When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear my words. Calamity opens the heart to receive instruction. The "judges" - i.e. the leaders - among David's enemies are visited with a grievous calamity, expressed metaphorically by their being dashed upon rocks. This disposes them to listen to David's words, which are well worth listening to, since they are sweet.
Our bones are scattered at the grave's mouth, as when one cutteth and cleaveth wood upon the earth.
Verse 7. - Our bones are scattered at the grave's mouth. The calamity is not confined to the "judges." The bones of the people generally lie scattered at hews mouth - unburied, i.e., but ready to go down to Hades. As when one cutteth and cleaveth wood upon the earth; rather, as when one cleaves and breaks up the earth. "The bones of God's servants were strewn as thickly ever the ground as stones over a newly ploughed piece of soil, so that the Holy Land looked as if it had become an antechamber of Hades" (Kay).
But mine eyes are unto thee, O GOD the Lord: in thee is my trust; leave not my soul destitute.
Verse 8. - But mine eyes are unto thee, O God the Lord. I, however, the psalmist says, do not despair - I look to thee, O Jehovah the Lord (comp. Psalm 40:7) - in thee is my trust; leave not my soul destitute. The last clause is, literally, pour not out my soul; i.e. destroy me not - do not spill my life on the ground (comp. Isaiah 53:12).
Keep me from the snares which they have laid for me, and the gins of the workers of iniquity.
Verse 9. - Keep me from the snares which they have laid for me, and the gins of the workers of iniquity (comp. Psalm 40:4, 5).
Let the wicked fall into their own nets, whilst that I withal escape.
Verse 10. - Let the wicked fall into their own nets (comp. Psalm 7:15; Psalm 35:8; Psalm 57:6; Proverbs 5:22). The moral sense is always satisfied when the wicked man falls into his own trap, or is "hoist with his own petard." Even a heathen poet could say -
"Nec lex justior ulla est,
Quam necis artifices arte perire sun." Whilst that I withal escape; literally, until that I pass over; i.e. whilst I pass over the nets, or traps, in safety.