To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. This psalm was written by David, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, concerning Judas the betrayer of Christ, as is certain from Acts 1:16 hence it is used to be called by the ancients the Iscariotic psalm. Whether the occasion of it was the rebellion of Absalom, as some, or the persecution of Saul, as Kimchi; and whoever David might have in view particularly, whether Ahithophel, or Doeg the Edomite, as is most likely; yet it is evident that the Holy Ghost foresaw the sin of Judas, and prophesies of that, and of the ruin and misery that should come upon him; for the imprecations in this psalm are no other than predictions of future events, and so are not to be drawn into an example by men; nor do they breathe out anything contrary to the spirit of Christianity, but are proofs of it, since what is here predicted has been exactly accomplished. The title in the Syriac version is,
"a psalm of David when they created Absalom king without his knowledge, and for this cause he was slain; but to us it expounds the sufferings of the Christ of God;''
and indeed he is the person that is all along speaking in this psalm.
O God of my praise; worthy of all praise, because of the perfections of his nature, and for the mercies he bestows; and is and ought to be the constant object of the praise of his people, and was the object of the praise of Christ; see Psalm 22:22, who praised him for his wonderful formation as man, having such a holy human nature, so suitable to his divine Person, and so fit for the service of his people; for his preservation from his enemies, and the deliverance of him from death and the grave, by his resurrection; for hearing his petitions, and for the special grace bestowed on his people; see Psalm 139:14. Or, "O God of my glorying (w)"; in whom he gloried, of whom he boasted; as he often with exultation spoke of him as his God and Father: or, "the God that praises me"; for his praise was not of men, but of God, who by a voice from heaven declared him his beloved Son, in whom he was well pleased, Matthew 3:17.
(w) "gloriationis meae", Cocceius; "de quo glorior", so some in Vatablus.
They have spoken against me with a lying tongue, false witnesses rose up against him, and laid things to his charge he knew nothing of, and which they could not prove, Matthew 26:59.
(x) "os doli", Vatablus, Cocceius; "os fraudis", Gejerus, Michaelis; so Ainsworth.
And fought against me without a cause: they were of an hostile spirit, enemies and enmity itself against him; fought against him both with words and blows, with their tongues and with their fists; sought his life, and at length took it away; he was attacked by the body of the Jewish nation, and by the whole posse of devils; and all this without any cause or just reason: he gave them no occasion for this enmity and malice, and opposition to him; and it was in the issue without effect, it was in vain and to no purpose; for though they gained their point in putting him to death, yet he rose again a triumphant Conqueror over them all.
But I give myself unto prayer; or "I am a man of prayer" (y); as Aben Ezra and Kimchi supply it; so he was in the days of his flesh, Hebrews 5:7, he was constant at it, and fervent in it; sometimes a whole night together at it: his usual method was, when at Jerusalem, to teach in the temple in the daytime, and at night to go to the mount of Olives, and there abide and pray, Luke 6:12. This was the armour he alone made use of against his enemies, when they fought against him, and acted the part of an adversary to him; he betook himself to nothing else but prayer; he did not return railing for railing, but committed himself in prayer to God, who judgeth righteously, 1 Peter 2:23, yea, he prayed for those his adversaries: and so Aben Ezra and Kimchi interpret it, that he was a man of prayer for them, and prayed for them; as it is certain Christ did, when he was encompassed by his enemies, and they were venting all their spite and malice against him, Luke 23:34.
(y) "et ego vir orationis", Pagninus, Gejerus.
And hatred for my love; he came to seek and save that which was lost, and yet they hated him, and would not have him to rule over them, Luke 19:10.
And let Satan stand at his right hand; to direct and influence him, to solicit and tempt him to do the evil he did, and to accuse him for it when done; see Zechariah 3:1.
let him go out a wicked, or a guilty or condemned man (z); let him hear the awful sentence, "go, thou cursed, into everlasting fire": and let him go out immediately from the presence of the Judge into eternal punishment, the condemnation of the devil: so Judas is said to go to his own place, Acts 1:25.
And let his prayer become sin, let it be fruitless and in vain; and so far from being heard, let it he treated as an abomination; let it be considered as an aggravation of his crime, as Haman's was, Esther 7:7, let his prayer being without faith in the blood of Christ, be reckoned sinful, as it was; let his cries, and tears, and repentance issue in desperation, and that in sin, as it did in destroying himself, Matthew 27:5.
(z) "exeat impius", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, De Dieu, Gejerus; "damnatus", Junius & Tremellius; "condemnatus", Cocceius.
And let another take his office; or bishopric, as the Septuagint version and the Apostle Peter call it; who cites this passage, and applies it to Judas, in Acts 1:20. His office was the office of an apostle, an high and honourable one, the chief office in the church: it was a charge, as the word signifies; a charge of souls, an oversight of the flock; which is to be taken not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre's sake, but of a ready mind. Judas took it for filthy lucre's sake, and it was taken away from him, and given to another; to Matthias, on whom the lot fell, and who was numbered with the apostles in his room, Acts 1:21. This is true also of the priests, Scribes, and Pharisees, who were divested of their offices in a very little time; three shepherds were cut off in one month, Zechariah 11:8. There being a change of the priesthood, law, and ordinances, there was a change of offices and officers; new ordinances were appointed by Christ, and new officers created, on whom gifts were bestowed suitable to their work.
Let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places; either describing, as Kimchi thinks, the miserable cottages, forlorn and desolate houses, in which they lived, and from whence they went out to everyone that passed by, to ask relief of them; or it may be rendered,
because of their desolate places (b); or, "after them"; so the Targum, "after their desolation was made"; when their grand house was left desolate, their temple, as our Lord said it should, and was, Matthew 23:38, and all their other houses in Jerusalem and in Judea; then were they obliged to seek their bread of others elsewhere, and by begging. The Syriac version wants this verse.
(a) Mifchar Hapeninim apud Buxtorf. Florileg. Heb. p. 262, 263. (b) So De Dieu, Gejerus, and some in Michaelis.
And let the stranger spoil his labour; plunder his house of all his goods and substance he had been labouring for: which was true of the Romans, who were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel; who came into the land, and spoiled their houses, fields, and vineyards, they had been labouring in; they took away their place and nation, and all they had, John 11:48.
(c) "illaqueet", Pagninus, Montanus, Musculus, Piscator, Gejerus; "iretiat", Vatablus, Michaelis.
Neither let there be any to favour his fatherless children: to bestow any benefit upon them; to relieve their wants, nor to protect their persons; no more respect shown them than to their father, being shunned and hated for their father's sake.
"let his end be for destruction;''
and so the Syriac version, "let their end be for destruction"; their last end, which it is said shall be cut off, and issue in death, eternal death; when the end of a good man is peace and eternal life, see Psalm 37:37.
And in the generation following let their name be blotted out: or, in another age (d); the next age, the third generation; meaning the name of the posterity of Judas, and the name of the people of the Jews, so as to be spoken of with honour and reputation; but, instead of that, they are for a taunt, a proverb, and a curse, in all places.
(d) "in generatione altera", Pagninus, Montanus, &c.
And let not the sin of his mother be blotted out: or forgiven; but stand as a debt to be accounted for: meaning not the sin of his mother Eve, nor of his immediate parent; but either of the Hittite as before, or of the synagogue of the Jews, or Jerusalem, which killed the prophets of the Lord.
"let them be before the Word of the Lord always;''
see Hebrews 4:13.
That he may cut off the memory of them from the earth; so that they may not be remembered with any applause, or their name spoken of with any commendation; see Job 18:17.
But persecuted the poor and needy man; Christ, who became poor for our sakes, and stood in need of the ministration of others to him, 2 Corinthians 8:9 and was poor in spirit, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with griefs; him Judas and the Jews persecuted to death, as follows:
that he might even slay the broken in heart; Christ, whose heart was broken with the reproach and cruel usage of men, Psalm 69:20, whose life the Jews sought to take away, and by means of Judas did.
As he delighted not in blessing, so let it be far from him; Judas delighted not in the good will and good wishes of any to Christ, as appears from his dislike of the ointment being poured on his head by the poor woman, in John 12:4, and so the Jews were displeased at the children, and at the disciples in the temple, blessing Christ, pronouncing him blessed, and wishing blessings to him, Matthew 21:15, yea, they delighted not in their own blessedness, or in that which only could give it to them; they delighted not in Christ, who was sent to bless them, but despised and rejected him; nor in the Gospel, which is full of blessings; and particularly not in the doctrine of justification by Christ's righteousness, which commonly makes a man blessed: yea, in a sense, they judged themselves unworthy of everlasting life; and therefore it was but a righteous thing that blessing should be far from Judas and the Jews, as it was; even temporal, spiritual, and eternal blessings: yet there have been a sort of heretics (e), that have highly praised and commended Judas, as doing a brave and noble action in betraying Christ, whereby the work of salvation was hastened.
(e) Epiphan. contra Haeres. l. 1. Haer. 38.
So let it come into his bowels like water; the meaning is, let the wrath of God and the curse of the law come into his conscience, and make sad work there, and fill him with dread and terror, and that in great abundance, and with great force; like a flood of waters that carry all before it; or like the waters of jealousy which made the belly to swell and the thigh to rot; or the flying roll of the curse, which entering into the house of the sinner destroyed it, and all in it, Numbers 5:22.
And like oil into his bones; which is more piercing and penetrating than water; and signifies the inward and quick sense he should have of his sins, and of the wrath of God for them; see Job 20:11.
And for a girdle wherewith he is girded continually; let him be in the utmost straits and distress, being encompassed about with the curse and wrath of God; and let that stick close unto him as a man's belt does; and let him not be able to get clear of it, or extricate himself out of it, as no man can on whom it is.
And of them that speak evil against my soul; or "life" (f); in order to take it away, as did the false witnesses that rose up against him, and the Jews who charged him with sedition and blasphemy.
(f) "contra vitam meam", Gejerus.
Because thy mercy is good, deliver thou me; or "thy kindness" (g); meaning the lovingkindness of God to Christ, which he always bore to him, and was eminently and superlatively good; which he makes use of as an argument for his deliverance out of all his troubles, and from death itself; see Psalm 69:14.
(g) "benignitas tua", Musculus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.
And my heart is wounded within me; with the sins of his people on him, with a sense of divine wrath, and when under divine desertions, especially when his soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, Matthew 26:38.
I am tossed up and down as the locust; or "shaken out" (i) by the wind, as the locust is by the east wind, and carried from place to place, Exodus 10:13, or when a swarm of them by a strong wind are crowded together and thrown upon one another; or like the grasshopper, which leaps from hedge to hedge, and has no certain abode: and such was the case of Christ here on earth; and especially it may have respect not only to his being sometimes in Judea and sometimes in Galilee, sometimes in the temple and sometimes in the mount of Olives; but to his being tossed about after his apprehension, when he was led to Annas, and then to Caiaphas, then to Pilate, then to Herod, then delivered to the soldiers, and by them led to Calvary, and crucified.
(h) "cogor abire", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius; "abire factus sum", Gejerus, Michaelis. (i) "excussus sum", Montanus, Vatablus Gejerus, Michaelis; "excutior", Tigurine version, Musculus, Cocceius.
And my flesh faileth of fatness; or "for want of oil" (k); the radical moisture of his flesh being dried up like a potsherd, Psalm 22:15.
(k) , Sept. "propter oleum", V. L. "propter defectum olei", Eth. Arab.
When they looked upon me, they shaked their heads; which was verified in the Jews as they passed by the cross of Christ, whither they came to stare upon him and scoff at him, Matthew 27:39.
O save me according to thy mercy; or "kindness"; as before in Psalm 109:21 from sufferings, and out of them; from death and the grave, as he was; or his people by him, who are saved not by works of righteousness, but according to the mercy of God, Titus 3:5.
"that they may know that this is thy stroke;''
or which was concerned in all the sorrows and sufferings of the Messiah, which could never have come upon him had it not been the will of God; it was his hand and council that determined it, or men could never have effected it; see Acts 4:28, or which wrought deliverance and salvation as before prayed for; see Psalm 118:21.
That thou, Lord, hast done it: one or other, or all the above things; the finger of God was to be seen in them; particularly in the sufferings of Christ, and in his exaltation; see Acts 2:23.
When they arise, let them be ashamed; be suffered to do those things which may bring shame and disgrace upon them; or let them be disappointed and so confounded, as the Jews were; who though they so far gained their point as to bring Christ to the dust of death and the grave, yet to their great confusion he arose again from the dead; or let them be ashamed at the last day, as they will be when Christ shall come in the clouds of heaven and be their Judge, who will then be glad to shelter themselves in rocks and caves. This is imprecated to be done
when they shall arise: rise up against Christ to take away his life; rise up against his disciples to persecute them, against his Gospel to contradict and blaspheme it, and against his cause and interest to crush it; or against the Romans, to shake off their yoke, when they were brought to great shame and confusion; or when they shall arise at the resurrection of the dead, which will be to shame and everlasting contempt, Daniel 12:2.
But let thy servant rejoice; the Messiah, who appeared in the form of a servant; came not as a temporal lord and prince, to be ministered unto, but as a servant, to minister to others; and who is a servant of God's choosing, calling, and sending, and whom he faithfully served; and who, as prayed for, did rejoice in the strength of the Lord, given him as man; and in the salvation wrought for and by him, Psalm 21:1, in the work of the Lord prospering in his hand; in his victory over sin, Satan, the world, and death; in the presence of God he was made glad with, and in the glory promised him, which he had with his Father before the world was, Psalm 16:11.
And let them cover themselves with their own confusion as with a mantle: the Arabic version is, "as with a breastplate." Some understand it as a petition of Christ, that they might be brought to repentance for their sins, and so to shame for them; which is an instance of his wondrous grace and goodness; and it is certain he prayed for the forgiveness of his enemies when on the cross, Luke 23:34.
Yea, I will praise him among the multitude: of converted persons, both Jews and Gentiles, and by them: or, "among the mighty" (l); or great ones; the great congregation, as in Psalm 22:25 among the innumerable and mighty angels in heaven; or, as the Targum,
"among the wise men;''
his own disciples, made wise unto salvation, and to win souls; being filled with the gifts of wisdom and knowledge; among and with whom Christ sung an hymn of praise after the celebration of the supper, Matthew 26:30.
(l) "in magno coetu", Tigurine version.