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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 1–6
Verses 1–6

David, in these verses, puts in before God a representation of his own danger and of his enemies’ character, to enforce his petition that God would protect him and punish them.

I. He earnestly begs of God to preserve him (Ps. 64:1, 2): Hear my voice, O God! in my prayer; that is, grant me the thing I pray for, and this is it, Lord, preserve my life from fear of the enemy, that is, fro the enemy that I am in fear of. He makes request for his life, which is, in a particular manner, dear to him, because he knows it is designed to be very serviceable to God and his generation. When his life is struck at it cannot be thought he should altogether hold his peace, Est. 7:2, 4. And, if he plead his fear of the enemy, it is no disparagement to his courage; his father Jacob, that prince with God, did so before him. Gen. 32:11; Deliver me from the hand of Esau, for I fear him. Preserve my life from fear, not only from the thing itself which I fear, but from the disquieting fear of it; this is, in effect, the preservation of the life, for fear has torment, particularly the fear of death, by reason of which some are all their life-time subject to bondage. He prays, “Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked, from the mischief which they secretly consult among themselves to do against me, and from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity, who join forces, as they join counsels, to do me a mischief.” Observe, The secret counsel ends in an insurrection; treasonable practices begin in treasonable confederacies and conspiracies. “Hide me from them, that they may not find me, that they may not reach me. Let me be safe under thy protection.”

II. He complains of the great malice and wickedness of his enemies: “Lord, hide me from them, for they are the worst of men, not fit to be connived at; they are dangerous men, that will stick at nothing; so that I am undone if thou do not take my part.”

1. They are very spiteful in their calumnies and reproaches, Ps. 64:3, 4. They are described as military men, with their sword and bow, archers that take aim exactly, secretly, and suddenly, and shoot at the harmless bird that apprehends not herself in any danger. But, (1.) Their tongues are their swords, flaming swords, two-edged swords, drawn swords, drawn in anger, with which they cut, and wound, and kill, the good name of their neighbours. The tongue is a little member, but, like the sword, it boasts great things, Jas. 3:5. It is a dangerous weapon. (2.) Bitter words are their arrows—scurrilous reflections, opprobrious nicknames, false representations, slanders, and calumnies, the fiery darts of the wicked one, set on fire to hell. For these their malice bends their bows, to send out these arrows with so much the more force. (3.) The upright man is their mark; against him their spleen is, and they cannot speak peaceably either of him or to him. The better any man is the more he is envied by those that are themselves bad, and the more ill is said of him. (4.) They manage it with a great deal of art and subtlety. They shoot in secret, that those they shoot at may not discover them and avoid the danger, for in vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird. And suddenly do they shoot, without giving a man lawful warning or any opportunity to defend himself. Cursed be he that thus smites his neighbour secretly in his reputation, Deut. 27:24. There is no guard against a pass made by a false tongue. (5.) Herein they fear not, that is, they are confident of their success, and doubt not but by these methods they shall gain the point which their malice aims at. Or, rather, they fear not the wrath of God, which they will be the portion of a false tongue. They are impudent and daring in the mischief they do to good people, as if they must never be called to an account for it.

2. They are very close and very resolute in their malicious projects, Ps. 64:5. (1.) They strengthen and corroborate themselves and one another in this evil matter, and by joining together in it they make one another the more bitter and the more bold. Fortiter calumniari, aliquid adhaerebit—Lay on an abundance of reproach; part will be sure to stick. It is bad to do a wrong thing, but worse to encourage ourselves and one another in doing it; this is doing the devil’s work for him. It is a sign that the heart is hardened to the highest degree when it is thus fully set to do evil and fears no colours. It is the office of conscience to discourage men in an evil matter, but, when that is baffled, the case is desperate. (2.) They consult with themselves and one another how to do the most mischief and most effectually: They commune of laying snares privily. All their communion is in sin and all their communication is how to sin securely. They hold councils of war for finding out the most effectual expedients to do mischief; every snare they lay was talked of before, and was laid with all the contrivance of their wicked wits combined. (3.) They please themselves with an atheistical conceit that God himself takes no notice of their wicked practices: They say, Who shall see them? A practical disbelief of God’s omniscience is at the bottom of all the wickedness of the wicked.

3. They are very industrious in putting their projects in execution (Ps. 64:6): “They search out iniquity; they take a great deal of pains to find out some iniquity or other to lay to my charge; they dig deep, and look far back, and put things to the utmost stretch, that they may have something to accuse me of;” or, “They are industrious to find out new arts of doing mischief to me; in this they accomplish a diligent search; they go through with it, and spare neither cost nor labour.” Evil men dig up mischief. Half the pains that many take to damn their souls would serve to save them. They are masters of all the arts of mischief and destruction, for the inward thought of every one of them, and the heart, are keep, deep as hell, desperately wicked, who can know it? By the unaccountable wickedness of their wit and of their will, they show themselves to be, both in subtlety and malignity, the genuine offspring of the old serpent.