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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 8–13
Verses 8–13

Here is the believing foresight David had,

I. Of the shame and confusion of persecutors.

1. Their disappointment. This he prays for (Ps. 140:8), that their lusts might not be gratified, their lust of ambition, envy, and revenge: “Grant not, O Lord! the desires of the wicked, but frustrate them; let them not see the ruin of my interest, which they so earnestly wish to see; but hear the voice of my supplications.” He prays that their projects might not take effect, but be blasted: “O further not his wicked device; let not Providence favour any of his designs, but cross them; suffer not his wicked device to proceed, but chain his wheels, and stop him in the career of his pursuits.” Thus we are to pray against the enemies of God’s people, that they may not succeed in any of their enterprises. Such was David’s prayer against Ahithophel, that God would turn his counsels into foolishness. The plea is, lest they exalt themselves, value themselves upon their success as if it were an evidence that God favoured them. Proud men, when they prosper, are made prouder, grow more impudent against God and insolent against his people, and therefore, “Lord, do not prosper them.”

2. Their destruction. This he prays for (as we read it); but some choose to read it rather as a prophecy, and the original will bear it. If we take it as a prayer, that proceeds from a spirit of prophecy, which comes all to one. He foretels the ruin,

(1.) Of his own enemies: “As for those that compass me about, and seek my ruin,” [1.] “The mischief of their own lips shall cover their heads (Ps. 140:9); the evil they have wished to me shall come upon themselves, their curses shall be blown back into their own faces, and the very designs which they have laid against me shall turn to their own ruin,” Ps. 7:15, 16. Let those that make mischief, by slandering, tale-bearing, misrepresenting their neighbours, and spreading ill-natured characters and stories, dread the consequence of it, and think how sad their condition will be when all the mischief they have been accessory to shall be made to return upon themselves. [2.] The judgments of God shall fall upon them, compared here to burning coals, in allusion to the destruction of Sodom; nay, as in the deluge the waters from above, and those from beneath, met for the drowning of the world, both the windows of heaven were opened and the fountains of the great deep were broken up, so here, to complete the ruin of the enemies of Christ and his kingdom, they shall not only have burning coals cast upon them from above (Job 20:23; 27:22), but they themselves shall be cast into the fire beneath; both heaven and hell, the wrath of God the Judge and the rage of Satan the tormentor, shall concur to make them miserable. And the fire they shall be cast into is not a furnace of fire, out of which perhaps they might escape, but a deep pit, out of which they cannot rise. Tophet is said to be deep and large, Isa. 30:33.

(2.) Of all others that are like them, Ps. 140:11. [1.] Evil speakers must expect to be shaken, for they shall never be established in the earth. What is got by fraud and falsehood, by calumny and unjust accusation, will not prosper, will not last. Wealth gotten by vanity will be diminished. Let not such men as Doeg think to reign long, for his doom will be theirs, Ps. 2:5. A lying tongue is but for a moment, but the lip of truth shall be established for ever. [2.] Evil doers must expect to be destroyed: Evil shall hunt the violent man, as the blood-hound hunts the murderer to discover him, as the lion hunts his prey to tear it to pieces. Mischievous men will be brought to light, and brought to ruin; the destruction appointed shall run them down and overthrow them. Evil pursues sinners.

II. Here is his foresight of the deliverance and comfort of the persecuted, Ps. 140:12, 13. 1. God will do those justice, in delivering them, who, being wronged, commit themselves to him: “I know that the Lord will maintain the just and injured cause of his afflicted people, and will not suffer might always to prevail against right, though it be but the right of the poor, who have but little that they can pretend a right to.” God is, and will be, the patron of oppressed innocence, much more of persecuted piety; those that know him cannot but know this. 2. They will do him justice (if I may so speak), in ascribing the glory of their deliverance to him: “Surely the righteous (who make conscience of rendering to God his due, as well as to men theirs) shall give thanks unto thy name when they find their cause pleaded with jealousy and prosecuted with effect.” The closing words, The upright shall dwell in thy presence, denote both God’s favour to them (“Thou shalt admit them to dwell in thy presence in grace here, in glory hereafter, and it shall be their safety and happiness”) and their duty to God: “They shall attend upon thee as servants that keep in the presence of their masters, both to do them honour and to receive their commands.” This is true thanksgiving, even thanksliving; and this use we should make of all our deliverance, we should serve God the more closely and cheerfully.