1. Plea for Help (vv.1,2)
  2. Plea for Help not to Succumb to Expediency (vv.3,5)
  3. Hope for both Sides (vv.6,7)
  4. Prayer for Deliverance from Enemies (vv.8-10)
TITLE A Psalm of David (rAmz>mi [n.m.s.] dwId'l. [prep.w/pr.n.]).
Plea for Help (vv.1,2)

VERSE 1 O LORD, I call upon You; hasten to me (hw"hy> [pr.n.] ^ytiar'q. [, qara, call] hv'Wx [Qal.infin.cstr., chush, hurry] yLi [prep.w/1.c.s.sf.])!

Give ear to my voice when I call to You (hn"yzIa]h; [Hiphil.imper., azan, hear; cp. ozen, ear] yliAq [n.m.s.w/1.c.s.sf., qol, voice] `%l'-yair>q'B. [prep.w/Qal.infin.cstr.w/1.c.s.sf., qara, call])!

VERSE 2 May my prayer be counted as incense before You (ytiL'piT. [n.f.s.w/1.c.s.sf., tephillah, prayer] .!AKTi [Niphal.impf.3.f.s., kun, to be established] tr,joq [n.f.s., qetoreth, incense] ^yn<p'l. [prep.w/n.m.p.w/2.m.s.sf., paneh, face]);

The lifting up of my hands as the evening offering (ta;f.m; [n.f.s.cstr., mashe-eth, that which rises, uplifting] yP;K; [n.f.dual.w/1.c.s.sf., kaph, hand] `br,['-tx;n>mi [n.f.s.cstr., minechah, gift offering or meal offering, + n.m.s., erebh, evening]).


  1. This psalm is an individual lament against enemies.
  2. Some situation, not readily apparent, spawned this psalm (it doesnít seem to fit the Bathsheba or Absalom incidents).
  3. The opening language is that of urgency (v.1a, "Hasten/hurry to me!").
  4. Domestic enemies are out to do David in (v.9).
  5. He prays for their judgment (v.10).
  6. In the opening line David notifies Yahweh that he is in a state of urgent prayer.
  7. And he quickly moves to a plea that God hasten to his aid (cp. Pss.22:19; 38:22).
  8. In v.2 he petitions that his prayer be acceptable before God.
  9. His frame of reference for this request is the Levitical ritual dealing with the sacred incense and the evening offering.
  10. His desire is that his prayer content find favor with God corresponding to the symbology of the sacred incense which was offered twice daily (morning and evening) on the Golden Altar of Incense in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle/Temple.
  11. The sacred incense was made up of three aromatic substances corresponding to the three aspects of prayer: confession, intercession, and thanksgiving.
  12. The Law prescribed both a morning (opening) and evening (closing) offering at the Tabernacle/Temple (Ezra.9:4,5; Dan.9:21).
  13. Exodus 29:41 specifies what the morning and evening offerings were to consist of.
  14. The actual Hebrew word for offering is minchah, which according to Lev.2 was a grain offering.
  15. It symbolized the perfect person of the Sin-Bearer Ė Jesus Christ.
  16. So David prays that his prayer meets all the qualifications to be "counted as incense before" the Lord.
  17. He does not want to offer "strange incense", as it were (cf. Ex.30:9).
  18. Pagan ritual included the offering of incense, which represented their prayers to their gods (Jer.11:12).
  19. David desires that the reality (his prayer) match perfectly the shadow (sacred incense).
  20. He also asks that "the lifting up of my hands" correspond to "the evening offering".
  21. The closing ceremony at the Tabernacle/Temple included a lamb, a grain offering (same word as in our verse), and a drink offering (libation), all offered according to the law of the burnt offering.
  22. The question is: "How does the lifting up of hands correspond typologically to the minchah offered up in smoke?".
  23. The raised arms with the palms raised upward indicate dependence upon a higher source (i.e., God).
  24. The offering itself indicates manís dependency upon the perfect sacrifice.
  25. Our dependency upon God starts with our need of salvation.
  26. This dependency upon the grace of God continues in Ph2.
  27. David looks to God for deliverance from his enemies and not to his own ingenuity.
  28. The raising of the hands indicates our dependence upon God for the little and for the big things.
Plea not to Succumb to Pressure (vv.3-5)
The Enemy Within and Without (vv.3,4)

VERSE 3 Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth (ht'yvi [Qal.imper., shith, set, put] hr'm.v' [n.f.s., shamerah, guard] hw"hy> [pr.n.] ypil. [prep.w/n.m.s., peh, mouth]);

Keep watch over the door of my lips (hr'C.nI [Qal.imper., natsar, guard, keep watch] lD;-l[; [prep. + n.m.s.cstr., dal, door] `yt'p'f. [n.f.dual.w/1.c.s.sf., shaphah, lip]).

VERSE 4 Do not incline my heart to any evil thing (yBili-jT;-la [neg. + Hiphil.impf.2.m.s., natah, stretch out; incline, + n.m.s.w/1.c.s.sf., lebh, heart] rb'd'l [prep.w/n.m.s., dabhar, word; "anyÖthing"] [r' [adj.m.s., ra, evil]),

To practice deeds of wickedness (lleA[t.hil. [prep.w/Hithpael.infin.cstr., alal, to act severely; to deal wantonly] tAlli[] [n.f.p., aliylah, deed, wantonness] [[v;r,B [prep.w/n.m.s., resha, wrong; "wickedness"])

With men who do iniquity (~yviyai-ta, [dir.obj. + n.m.p., ish, man] !w<a'-yle[]Po [, pa-al, do, + n.m.s., awen, iniquity]);

And do not let me eat of their delicacies (~x;l.a,-lb;W [conj.w/neg. + Qal.impf.1.c.s., lacham, eat] `~h,yMe[;n>m;B. [prep.w/n.m.p.w/3.m.p.sf., mane-am, delicacies; 1X]).


  1. David now moves from his plea that God find favor with his prayer for relief to its content.
  2. His first petition is that God keep him from sins of the tongue relative to the situation at hand.
  3. He does not want to resort to any STA-sponsored speech that would compromise his stand for the truth.
  4. There were things he could say that would soften his opposition to him.
  5. They fall into the category of deceit (cp. Ps.34:13 "Keep your tongue from evil, And your lips from speaking deceit").
  6. It is said of Christ that He did not employ deceit in order to make his way easier when faced with the ordeal of the Cross (Isa.53:9; cp. 1Pet.2:21,22).
  7. Deceit is but one of a number of STA verbal devices that David could have resorted to in order to make things easier for himself.
  8. He could have said things that would have mollified (to soothe the anger of, appease) the opposition.
  9. To say things you really donít believe in, in order to appease those espousing human viewpoint to take the heat off, is to deny the Lord and is a sin.
  10. Peterís denial of Christ is an example of compromise to avoid unpleasant consequences.
  11. Believers compromise with friends to avoid rifts, but see Prov.27:6 (cp. 20:30).
  12. There are other sins of the tongue that David needed to avoid as well, such as reviling and threats (1Pet.2:23).
  13. To revile is to criticize abusively (includes name-calling and cursing, etc.).
  14. While Christ was the object of verbal abuse, He avoided lowering Himself to their level.
  15. David did not want to flunk this phase of the persecution that was against him.
  16. So he prays that God will set a sentry over his mouth in a verse that features synonymous parallelism.
  17. The sentry is God the HS, who reminds us of what is right and what is wrong.
  18. To pray that God would grant us the grace to say the right thing for the occasion gives us the edge in dealing with this manifestation of the ISTA (cf. Prov.25:11 "Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances").
  19. A lot of destructive sinning ("world of iniquity") occurs in connection with the speech of man (Jam.3:5-12).
  20. This is something that all of us should put on our prayer list!
  21. In v.4 David moves from compromise in speech to compromise in overt activity.
  22. In v.4a he prays the equivalent of the petition from the model prayer: " Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil".
  23. Overt sins are sponsored by mental attitude sins, and so he prays that God will so order the circumstances of his life so that his heart (the "real you" of the soul) "does not incline to any evil thing, to practice deeds of wickedness with men who do iniquity".
  24. A lot of pressure was put upon David throughout his career to compromise with those who had a different agenda for ruling the people of Israel.
  25. There were powerful people in Israel who did not want a king who ruled in the righteousness laid down in the Mosaic Covenant.
  26. Throughout his long career he was pressured to join the opposition.
  27. So he prayed that God would help him to avoid the enemy within.
  28. Line 4 of v.4 implies a much closer bond of fellowship.
  29. It implies a situation where the psalmist becomes just like those he compromised with.
  30. Compromise that is unchecked leads to a condition where the individual turns into the very thing he only at first pretended to be.
  31. There is a subtle dance of looks and tones and laughs by which a man can imply that he is of the same party as those he is speaking with.
  32. He will assume at first only by his manner, but then by his words, all sorts of cosmic attitudes that are not really his.
  33. In the end he becomes the very thing he at first pretended to be.
  34. David does not want to say anything that would appease his political enemies and he does not want to entertain anything that could easily turn into full-blown STA wantonness that is the predilection of rulers.
  35. He does not want to end up enjoying the luxuries of men of moral and political iniquity.
Petition for Timely Reprimand (v.5)

VERSE 5 Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me (qyDIc;-ynImel.h,y< [Qal.impf.3.m.s.w/1.c.s.sf., halam, strike, + adj.m.s., tsadiq, righteous] ds,x, [n.m.s., chesed, loyalty] ynIxeykiAyw> [conj.w/Hiphil.impf.3.m.s.w/1.c.s.sf., yachakh, reprove]);

It is oil upon the head (!m,v, [n.m.s., shemen, oil] varo [n.m.s., rosh, head]);

Do not let my head refuse it (ynIy"-la [neg. + Hiphil.impf.3.m.s., nu, hinder; refuse] yviar [n.m.s.w/1.c.s.sf, rosh, head]),

For still my prayer is against their wicked deeds (dA[-yKi [conj. + adv., odh, still] ytiL'pit.W [conj.w/n.f.s.w/1.c.s.sf., tephillah, prayer] `~h,yteA[r'B [prep.w/adj.f.p.w/3.m.p.sf., ra-ah, evil]).

Judgment and Repentance (v.6)

VERSE 6 Their judges are thrown down by the sides of the rock (~h,yjep.vo [, shaphat, judge] Wjm.v.nI [, shamat, to release; to be made to fall down] [l;s,-ydeybi [prep.w/n.f.dual.cstr., yadh, hand; "sides", + n.m.s., sela, rock]),

And they hear my words, for they are pleasant (W[m.v'w> [conj.w/, shama, hear] yr;m'a] [n.m.p.w/1.c.s.sf, emer, word, speech] yKi [conj.] `Wm[en [, na-am, be pleasant]).

Hope No Matter What (v.7)

VERSE 7 As when one plows and breaks open the earth (AmK. [prep., of comparison; "As when"] x;lepo [, palach, cleave, plow] [;qeboW [conj.w/, baqa, split, break open] #r,a'B' [prep.w/n.f.s., erets, earth]) ,

Our bones have been scattered at the mouth of Sheol (Wnymec'[] [n.f.p.w/1.c.p.sf., etsem, bone] Wrz>p.nI [, pazar, scatter] ypil.[prep.w/n.m.s.cstr, peh, mouth] `lAav [pr.n.]).


  1. Thus far the psalm is comparatively easy to interpret.
  2. But now it becomes fairly difficult.
  3. David, conscious of his own imperfections as a monarch, gladly welcomes any friendly reproof to help him avoid attitudes and actions which could lead him down the path he wishes to avoid.
  4. He has resolved to avoid the company of lavish hospitality and now prays for the reprimand of good folk.
  5. There is yet another defense against his propensity to go with his STA, which he asks God to bless him with.
  6. He prays that "the righteous smite" him with words of reproof (v.5a).
  7. David asks that this painful experience be done with "kindness".
  8. To reprove another in a self-righteous and mean-spirited manner is to fail.
  9. Such an experience is painful enough; there is no need to administer the reproof in a heavy-handed fashion.
  10. Our objective should always be well intentioned, devoid of malice and acrimony.
  11. David considered this a blessing comparable to being anointed with oil.
  12. In Bible times this was considered an act of honor.
  13. David considered the strokes (words) of well-intentioned reproof a blessing of the highest order.
  14. This is one of the ways God warns and protects us from paths that can get us into alot of trouble.
  15. He further prays that his "head not refuse" the blessing due to stubborn pride.
  16. When reproving one who is in authority you should do it with respect and love.
  17. We should pray that God will bless us with words of correction from other believers, even though the experience can be painful.
  18. An adjusted believer will come to appreciate your timely, well-intentioned words of reproof (Prov.9:8; 19:25; 21:11).
  19. A true friend will risk the rapport of the friendship to tell you what you need to hear (Prov.27:6).
  20. When you approach a fellow believer, you should have prayed about it and be sure you are in fellowship.
  21. Leave the matter with them to make the necessary application.
  22. In v.5d David informs God that he is still praying "against their wicked deeds" and has not succumbed to the temptation to compromise.
  23. Verses 6 and 7 are obscure.
  24. Verse 6a has to do with the leaders of the opposition, called "Their judges", and with those who have been taken in by them (v.6b).
  25. In this conspiracy to undermine and ultimately overthrow David, all who made up the opposition are not equal.
  26. David knows that in the near future the leaders will be violently taken out.
  27. The Hebrew idiom he employs for violent destruction is when men are executed by being thrown over a rocky cliff (there was such a place in Rome where men were hurled from a precipice onto a large rock).
  28. Being hurled from a high place onto a hard surface was an ancient mode of execution (2Chr.25:12)
  29. The words "the sides of the rock" are, literally, "the hands of the rock".
  30. David realized that some people had been duped by these self-appointed "judges", and that there was hope for them; hence, line 2.
  31. When the usurpers met their violent end some of their followers would realize that they had made a grave mistake and would repent and return to their rightful leader.
  32. Then they would listen to David gladly.
  33. His words of wisdom would be "pleasant", whereas before they seemed unreasonable and extreme.
  34. David looks forward to a time of moral vindication for the convictions he stood for when the opposition was so strong.
  35. One of the positive outcomes following providential intervention against the usurpers, he hopes, will be that judgment results in repentance (cp. Hos.3:4,5).
  36. He realizes that all who are on the side of evil are not a lost cause.
  37. He knows that some will come around to his viewpoint and return to their shepherd.
  38. Verse 7 seems to defy explanation within the present context.
  39. David knew what would happen to the rebels because of the doctrine of the Davidic Covenant, which specified that David would overcome all his enemies.
  40. David knew through inspiration how the conspirators would be destroyed.
  41. Whether verse 6a should be taken literally or metaphorically is unresolved.
  42. That the leaders of the opposition met a violent death is clear. The expression "thrown down by the sides of the rock" indicates unusual circumstances.
  43. A plow breaking up the soil is analogous to the break up of the coalition against David.
  44. The comparison is indicated by the phrase "as when" in verse 7. The phrase "our bones" indicates fellow Israelites. The phrase "mouth of Sheol" indicates their death.
  45. Plowing changes the composition of hardened earth and so judgement changes public opinion toward leadership for the better.
  46. When God intervened, those who had been deceived by the persuasive speech of the conspirators responded to David's words.
  47. His words were pleasant because they were in accord with grace and truth.
Deliverance Anticipated (vv.8-10)

VERSE 8 For my eyes are toward You, O GOD, the Lord (yKi [conj.] i yn"y[e [n.f.dual.w/1.c.s.sf., ayin, eye] ^yl,ae [prep.w/2.m.s.sf.] hwIhy> [pr.n.] yn"doa] [pr.n.; "Yahweh Adonai"]);

In You I take refuge; do not leave me defenseless (hk'B. [prep.w/2.m.s.sf.] ytiysix' [, xhasah, seek refuge] r[;T.-la [neg. + Piel.impf.2.m.s., arah, to be bare; lay bare; "defenseless"] `yvip.n: [n.f.s.w/1.c.s.sf., nephesh; "me"]).

VERSE 9 Keep me from the jaws of the trap which they have set for me (ynIrem.v' [Qal.imper.w/1.c.s.sf., shamar, keep] ydeymi [prep.w/n.f.dual.cstr., yadh, hand; "jaws"] xp; [n.m.s., pach, bird trap, snare] Wvq.y" [, yaqash, lure, set a trap] yli [prep.w/1.c.s.sf.]),

And from the snares of those who do iniquity (tAvq.moW [conj.w/n.m.p., moqesh, bait, lure; "snares"] yle[]Po [, pa-al, do] `!w<a' [n.m.s., awen, iniquity]).

VERSE 10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets (~y[iv'r> [adj.m.p., rasha, wicked] WlP.yI [Qal.impf.3.m.p., naphal, fall] wyr'mok.m;b. [prep.w/n.m.p.w/3m.s.sf., makhemor, net] dx;y: [adv., yachadh, together; "own"]),

While I pass by safely (ykinOa' [pro., anochi, I] `rAb[/a,-d[ [prep., adh, until, + Qal.impf.1.c.s., abhar, to pass by; "pass by safely"]).


  1. A great gulf yawns between expectation and present experience.
  2. David seeks to win sympathy by mentioning his plight.
  3. An aura of death pervades his life.
  4. His eyes are upon Yahweh Adonai for help.
  5. He refuses to resort to fleshly devices to deliver self.
  6. The pronouns (2.m.s.) in v.8 indicate that Yahweh is his only hope.
  7. An urgent petition discloses the grim alternative if God does not protect and preserve him.
  8. The final prayer form is developed into a plea for guarding, which recalls his earlier petition in v.3.
  9. His enemies are like hunters, and he is the object of their manhunt.
  10. His only weapon against them is his prayer for justice. David asks that they fall victim to their own scheming while he miraculously manages to survive (v.10).
JUNE 16, 1998
© Copyright 1998, Maranatha Church, Inc.