15 But in mine adversity they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together: yea, the abjects gathered themselves together against me, and I knew it not; they did tear me, and ceased not: 16 With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon me with their teeth. 17 Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the lions. 18 I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people. 19 Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me: neither let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause. 20 For they speak not peace: but they devise deceitful matters against them that are quiet in the land. 21 Yea, they opened their mouth wide against me, and said, Aha, aha, our eye hath seen it. 22 This thou hast seen, O Lord: keep not silence: O Lord, be not far from me. 23 Stir up thyself, and awake to my judgment, even unto my cause, my God and my Lord. 24 Judge me, O Lord my God, according to thy righteousness; and let them not rejoice over me. 25 Let them not say in their hearts, Ah, so would we have it: let them not say, We have swallowed him up. 26 Let them be ashamed and brought to confusion together that rejoice at mine hurt: let them be clothed with shame and dishonour that magnify themselves against me. 27 Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the Lord be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant. 28 And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long.
Verse 15. But in mine adversity they rejoiced. In my halting they were delighted. My lameness was sport to them. Danger was near, and they sang songs over my expected defeat. How glad are the wicked to see a good man limp! “Now,” say they, “he will meet with his downfall.” And gathered themselves together, like kites and vultures around a dying sheep. They found a common joy in my ruin, and a recreation in my sorrow, and therefore met together to keep the feast. They laid their heads together to devise, and their tongues to deceive. Yea, the abjects gathered themselves together against me. Those who deserved horsewhipping, fellows the soles of whose feet were needing the bastinado, came together to plot, and held hole and corner meetings. Like curs around a sick lion, the mean wretches taunted and insulted one whose name had been their terror. The very cripples hobbled out to join the malicious crew. How unanimous are the powers of evil; how heartily do men serve the devil; and none decline his service because they are not endowed with great abilities! I knew it not. It was all done behind my back. What a fluster the world may be in, and the cause of it all may not even know that he has given offence. They did tear me, and ceased not. It is such dainty work to tear to pieces a good man’s character, that when slanderers have their hand in they are loath to leave off. A pack of dogs tearing their prey is nothing compared with a set of malicious gossips mauling the reputation of a worthy man. That lovers of the gospel are not at this time rent and torn as in the old days of Mary, is to be attributed to the providence of God rather than to the gentleness of men.
Verse 16. With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon me with their teeth. Like professional buffoons who grin around the banquet to make sport, so they made a business of jeering at the good man; not, however, out of mirth, but from violent, insatiable hatred. Like cake scoffers, or men who will jeer for a bit of bread, these hireling miscreants persecuted David in order to get a bellyful for themselves from Saul’s table: having moreover an inward grudge against the son of Jesse because he was a better man than themselves. Very forcibly might our Lord have used the words of these verses! Let us not forget to see the Despised and Rejected of men here painted to the life. Calvary and the ribald crew around the cross seem brought before our eyes.
Verse 17. Lord, how long wilt thou look on? Why be a mere spectator? Why so neglectful of thy servant? Art thou indifferent? Carest thou not that we perish? We may thus reason with the Lord. He permits us this familiarity. There is a time for our salvation, but to our impatience it often seems to be very slow in coming; yet wisdom has ordained the hour, and nothing shall delay it. Rescue my soul from their destructions. From their many devices; their multiplied assaults, be pleased to set me free. My darling, my lovely, only, precious soul, do thou rescue from the lions. His enemies were fierce, cunning, and strong as young lions; God only could deliver him from their jaws, to God he therefore addresses himself.
Verse 18. I will give thee thanks in the great congregation. Notable deliverances must be recorded, and their fame emblazoned. All the saints should be informed of the Lord’s goodness. The theme is worthy of the largest assembly, the experience of a believer is a subject fit for an assembled universe to hear of. Most men publish their griefs, good men should proclaim their mercies. I will praise thee among much people. Among friends and foes will I glorify the God of my salvation. Praise — personal praise, public praise, perpetual praise — should be the daily revenue of the King of heaven. Thus, for the second time, David’s prayer ends in praise, as indeed all prayers should.
Verse 19. He earnestly prays that as they have no cause for their enmity, they may have no cause for triumph either in his folly, sin, or overthrow. Neither let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause. The winking of the eye was the low bred sign of congratulation at the ruin of their victim, and it may also have been one of their scornful gestures as they gazed upon him whom they despised. To cause hatred is the mark of the wicked, to suffer it causelessly is the lot of the righteous. God is the natural Protector of all who are wronged, and he is the enemy of all oppressors.
Verse 20. For they speak not peace. They love it not; how can they speak it? They are such troublers themselves that they cannot judge others to be peaceable. Out of the mouth comes what is in the heart. Riotous men charge others with sedition. They devise deceitful matters against them that are quiet in the land. David would fain have been an orderly citizen, but they laboured to make him a rebel. He could do nothing aright, all his dealings were misrepresented. This is an old trick of the enemy to brand good men with S.S. on their cheeks, as sowers of sedition, though they have ever been a harmless race, like sheep among wolves. When mischief is meant, mischief is soon made. Unscrupulous partisans could even charge Jesus with seeking to overturn Caesar, much more will they thus accuse his household. At this very hour, those who stand up for the crown rights of King Jesus are called enemies of the church, favourers of Popery, friends of Atheists, levellers, red republicans, and it were hard to say what besides. Billingsgate and Babylon are in league.
Verse 21. Yea, they opened their mouth wide against me. As if they would swallow him. Uttering great lies which needed wide mouths. They set no bounds to their infamous charges, but poured out wholesale abuse, trusting that if all did not stick, some of it would. And said, Aha, aha, our eye hath seen it. Glad to find out a fault or a misfortune, or to swear they had seen evil where there was none. Malice has but one eye; it is blind to all virtue in its enemy. Eyes can generally see what hearts wish. A man with a mote in his eye sees a spot in the sun. How like a man is to an ass when he brays over another’s misfortunes! how like to a devil when he laughs a hyaena laugh over a good man’s slip! Malice is folly, and when it holds a festival its tones and gestures far exceed all the freaks and mummeries of the lord of misrule.
Verse 22. This thou hast seen, O Lord. Here is comfort. Our heavenly Father knows all our sorrow. Omniscience is the saint’s candle which never goes out. A father will not long endure to see his child abused. Shall not God avenge his own elect? Keep not silence. Rebuke thine enemies and mine, O Lord. A word will do it. Clear my character, comfort my heart. O Lord, be not far from me. Walk the furnace with me. Stand in the pillory at my side. The sweet presence of God is the divine cordial of the persecuted; his painful absence would be their deepest misery.
Verse 23. Stir up thyself. Be upon thy mettle. Prove that thou art no indifferent witness to all this infamy. Awake to my judgement. Take the sceptre and summon the great assize; vindicate justice, avenge oppression. Do not tarry as men do who sleep. Even unto my cause, my God and my Lord. He claims a nearness to his God, he holds him with both hands; he leaves his case with the righteous Judge. He begs that the suit may be brought on, heard, tried, and verdict given. Well is it for a man when his conscience is so clear that he dares to make such an appeal.
Verse 24. The appeal is here repeated; the plaintiff feels that the joy of his accusers will be short lived as soon as impartial justice rules. The oppressors’ wrong, the proud man’s contumely, the fool’s grimace — all, all will cease when the righteous Lord sits down upon the judgment seat.
Verse 25. Let them not say in their hearts, Ah, so would we have it: let them not say, We have swallowed him up. Disappoint them of their prey when their mouths are ready to swallow it. Saints are too dear a morsel for the powers of evil; God will not give his sheep over to the wolfish jaws of persecutors. Just when they are tuning their pipes to celebrate their victory, they shall be made to laugh on the other side of their mouths. They are all too sure, and too boastful; they reckon without their host: little do they dream of the end which will be put to their scheming. Their bird shall be flown, and they themselves shall be in the trap. The prayer of this text is a promise. Even before the lips of the wicked can frame a speech of exultation, they shall be disappointed; their heart speech shall be forestalled, their wishes frustrated, their knavish tricks exposed.
Verse 26. Here is the eternal result of all the laborious and crafty devices of the Lord’s enemies. God will make little of them, though they magnified themselves; he will shame them for shaming his people, bring them to confusion for making confusion, pull off their fine apparel and give them a beggardly suit of dishonour, and turn all their rejoicing into weeping and wailing, and gnashing of teeth. Truly, the saints can afford to wait.
Verse 27. Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause. Even those who could not render him active aid, but in their hearts favoured him, David would have the Lord reward most abundantly. Men of tender heart set great store by the good wishes and prayers of the Lord’s people. Jesus also prizes those whose hearts are with his cause. The day is coming when shouts of victory shall be raised by all who are on Christ’s side, for the battle will turn, and the foes of truth shall be routed. Yea, let them say continually, Let the Lord be magnified. He would have their gladness contributory to the divine glory; they are not to shout to David’s praise, but for the honour of Jehovah. Such acclamations may fitly be continued throughout time and eternity. Which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant. They recognised David as the Lord’s servant, and saw with pleasure the Lord’s favour to him. We can have no nobler title than “servant of God,” and no greater reward than for our Master to delight in our prosperity. What true prosperity may be we are not always best able to judge. We must leave that in Jesus’ hand; he will not fail to rule all things for our highest good.
“For by his saints it stands confessed, That what he does is always best.”
Verse 28. Unceasing praise is here vowed to the just and gracious God. From morning till evening the grateful tongue would talk and sing, and glorify the Lord. O for such a resolve carried out by us all!