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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 22–29
Verses 22–29

These imprecations are not David’s prayers against his enemies, but prophecies of the destruction of Christ’s persecutors, especially the Jewish nation, which our Lord himself foretold with tears, and which was accomplished about forty years after the death of Christ. The first two verses of this paragraph are expressly applied to the judgments of God upon the unbelieving Jews by the apostle (Ps. 69:22, 23; Rom. 11:9, 10), and therefore the whole must look that way. The rejection of the Jews for rejecting Christ, as it was a signal instance of God’s justice and an earnest of the vengeance which God will at last take on all that are obstinate in their infidelity, so it was, and continues to be, a convincing proof of the truth of the Christian religion. One great objection against it, at first, was, that it set aside the ceremonial law; but its doing so was effectually justified, and that objection removed, when God so remarkably set it aside by the utter destruction of the temple, and the sinking of those, with the Mosaic economy, that obstinately adhered to it in opposition to the gospel of Christ. Let us observe here,

I. What the judgments are which should come upon the crucifiers of Christ; not upon all of them, for there were those who had a hand in his death and yet repented and found mercy (Acts 2:23; 3:14, 15), but upon those of them and their successors who justified it by an obstinate infidelity and rejection of his gospel, and by an inveterate enmity to his disciples and followers. See 1 Thess. 2:15, 16. It is here foretold,

1. That their sacrifices and offerings should be a mischief and prejudice to them (Ps. 69:22): Let their table become a snare. This may be understood of the altar of the Lord, which is called his table and theirs because in feasting upon the sacrifices they were partakers of the altar. This should have been for their welfare or peace (for they were peace-offerings), but it became a snare and a trap to them; for by their affection and adherence to the altar they were held fast in their infidelity and hardened in their prejudices against Christ, that altar which those had no right to eat of who continued to serve the tabernacle, Heb. 13:10. Or it may be understood of their common creature-comforts, even their necessary food; they had given Christ gall and vinegar, and therefore justly shall their meat and drink be made gall and vinegar to them. When the supports of life and delights of sense, through the corruption of our nature, become an occasion of sin to us, and are made the food and fuel of our sensuality, then our table is a snare, which is a good reason why we should never feed ourselves without fear, Jude 1:12.

2. That they should never have the comfort either of that knowledge or of that peace which believers are blessed with in the gospel of Christ (Ps. 69:23), that they should be given up, (1.) To a judicial blindness: Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not the glory of God in the face of Christ. Their sin was that they would not see, but shut their eyes against the light, loving darkness rather; their punishment was that they should not see, but be given up to their own hearts’ lusts, which were hardening, and the god of this world should be permitted to blind their minds, 2 Cor. 4:4. This was foretold concerning them (Isa. 6:10), and Christ ratified it, Matt. 13:14, 15; John 12:40. (2.) To a judicial terror. There is a gracious terror, which opens the way to comfort, such as that of Paul (Acts 9:6); he trembled and was astonished. But this is a terror that shall never end in peace, but shall make their loins continually to shake, through horror of conscience, as Belshazzar, when the joints of his loins were loosed. “Let them be driven to despair, and filled with constant confusion.” This was fulfilled in the desperate counsels of the Jews when the Romans came upon them.

3. That they should fall and lie under God’s anger and fiery indignation (Ps. 69:24): Pour out thy indignation upon them. Note, Those who reject God’s great salvation proffered to them may justly fear that his indignation will be poured out upon them; for those that submit not to the Son of his love will certainly be made the generation of his wrath. It is the doom passed on those who believe not in Christ that the wrath of God abideth on them (John 3:36); it takes hold of them, and will never let them go. Salvation itself will not save those that are not willing to be ruled by it. Behold the goodness and severity of God!

4. That their place and nation should be utterly taken away, the very thing they were afraid of, and to prevent which, as they pretended, they persecuted Christ (John 11:48): Let their habitation be desolate (Ps. 69:25), which was fulfilled when their country was laid waste by the Romans, and Zion, for their sakes, was ploughed as a field, Mic. 3:12. The temple was the house which they were in a particular manner proud of, but this was left unto them desolate, Matt. 23:38. Yet that is not all; it ought to be some satisfaction to us, if we be cut off from the enjoyment of our possessions, that others will have the benefit of them when we are dislodged: but it is here added, Let none dwell in their tents, which was remarkably fulfilled in Judah and Jerusalem, for after the destruction of the Jews it was long ere the country was inhabited to any purpose. But this is applied particularly to Judas, by St. Peter, Acts 1:20. For, he being felo de se—a suicide, we may suppose his estate was confiscated, so that his habitation was desolate and no man of his own kindred dwelt therein.

5. That their way to ruin should be downhill, and nothing should stop them, nor interpose to prevent it (Ps. 69:27): “Lord, leave them to themselves, to add iniquity to iniquity.” Those that are bad, if they be given up to their own hearts’ lusts, will certainly be worse; they will add sin to sin, nay, they will add rebellion to their sin, Job 34:37. It is said of the Jews that they filled up their sin always, 1 Thess. 2:16. Add the punishment of iniquity to their iniquity (so some read it), for the same word signifies both sin and punishment, so close is their connexion. If men will sin, God will reckon for it. But those that have multiplied to sin may yet find mercy, for God multiplies to pardon, through the righteousness of the Mediator; and therefore, that they might be precluded from all hopes of mercy, he adds, Let them not come into thy righteousness, to receive the benefit of the righteousness of God, which is by faith in a Mediator, Phil. 3:9. Not that God shuts out any from that righteousness, for the gospel excludes none that do not by their unbelief exclude themselves; but let them be left to take their own course and they will never come into this government; for being ignorant of the demands of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish the merit of their own, they have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God, Rom. 10:3. And those that are so proud and self-willed that they will not come into God’s righteousness shall have their doom accordingly; they themselves have decided it: they shall not come into his righteousness. Let not those expect any benefit by it that are not willing and glad to be beholden to it.

6. That they should be cut off from all hopes of happiness (Ps. 69:28): Let them be blotted out of the book of the living; let them not be suffered to live any longer, since, the longer they live, the more mischief they do. Multitudes of the unbelieving Jews fell by sword and famine, and none of those who had embraced the Christian faith perished among them; the nation, as a nation, was blotted out, and became not a people. Many understand it of their rejection from God’s covenant and all the privileges of it; that is the book of the living: “Let the commonwealth of Israel itself, Israel according to the flesh, now become alienated from that covenant of promise which hitherto it has had the monopoly of. Let it appear that they were never written in the Lamb’s book of life, but reprobate silver let men call them, because the Lord has rejected them. Let them not be written with the righteous; that is, let them not have a place in the congregation of the saints when they shall all be gathered in the general assembly of those whose names are written in heaven,” Ps. 1:5.

II. What the sin is for which these dreadful judgments should be brought upon them (Ps. 69:26): They persecute him whom thou hast smitten, and talk to the grief of thy wounded. 1. Christ was he whom God had smitten, for it pleased the Lord to bruise him, and he was esteemed stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted, and therefore men hid their faces from him, Isa. 53:3, 4, 10. They persecuted him with a rage reaching up to heaven; they cried, Crucify him, crucify him. Compare that of St. Peter with this, Acts 2:23. Though he was delivered by the counsel and foreknowledge of God, it was with wicked hands that they crucified and slew him. They talked to the grief of the Lord Jesus when he was upon the cross, saying, He trusted in God, let him deliver him, than which nothing could be said more grieving. 2. The suffering saints were God’s wounded, wounded in his cause and for his sake, and them they persecuted, and talked to their grief. For these things wrath came upon them to the uttermost, 1 Thess. 2:16; and see Matt. 23:34-36 This may be understood more generally, and it teaches us that nothing is more provoking to God than to insult over those whom he has smitten, and to add affliction to the afflicted, upon which it justly follows here, Add iniquity to iniquity; see Zech. 1:15. Those that are of a wounded spirit, under trouble and fear about their spiritual state, ought to be very tenderly dealt with, and care must be taken not to talk to their grief and not to make the heart of the righteous sad.

III. What the psalmist thinks of himself in the midst of all (Ps. 69:29): “But I am poor and sorrowful; that is the worst of my case, under outward afflictions, yet written among the righteous, and not under God’s indignation as they are.” It is better to be poor and sorrowful, with the blessing of God, than rich and jovial and under his curse. For those who come into God’s righteousness shall soon see an end of their poverty and sorrow, and his salvation shall set them up on high, which is the thing that David here prays for, Isa. 61:10. This may be applied to Christ. He was, in his humiliation, poor and sorrowful, a man of sorrows, and that had not where to lay his head. But God highly exalted him; the salvation wrought for him, the salvation wrought by him, set him up on high, far above all principalities and powers.