Title. “To the Chief Musician upon Nehiloth, a Psalm of David.” The Hebrew word Nehiloth is taken from another word, signifying “to perforate;” “to bore through,” whence it comes to mean a pipe or a flute; so that this song was probably intended to be sung with an accompaniment of wind instruments, such as the horn, the trumpet, flute, or cornet. However, it is proper to remark that we are not sure of the interpretation of these ancient titles, for the Septuagint translates it, “For him who shall obtain inheritance,” and Aben Ezra thinks it denotes some old and well known melody to which this Psalm was to be played. The best scholars confess that great darkness hangs over the precise interpretation of the title; nor is this much to be regretted, for it furnishes an internal evidence of the great antiquity of the Book. Throughout the first, second, third, and forth Psalms, you will have noticed that the subject is a contrast between the position, the character, and the prospects of the righteous and of the wicked. In this Psalm you will note the same. The Psalmist carries out a contrast between himself made righteous by God’s grace, and the wicked who opposed him. To the devout mind there is here presented a precious view of the Lord Jesus, of whom it is said that in the days of his flesh, he offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears.
Division. The Psalm should be divided into two parts, from the first to the seventh verse, and then from the eighth to the twelfth. In the first part of the Psalm David most vehemently beseeches the Lord to hearken to his prayer, and in the second part he retraces the same ground.
The Treasury of David.
And now the Psalmist having thus expressed his resolution to pray, you hear him putting up his prayer. He is pleading against his cruel and wicked enemies. He uses a most mighty argument. He begs of God to put them away from him, because they were displeasing to God himself.
For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. “When I pray against my tempters,” says David, “I pray against the very things which thou thyself abhorrest.” Thou hatest evil: Lord, I beseech thee, deliver me from it!
Let us learn here the solemn truth of the hatred which a righteous God must bear toward sin. He has no pleasure in wickedness, however wittily, grandly, and proudly it may array itself. Its glitter has no charm for him. Men may bow before successful villainy, and forget the wickedness of the battle in the gaudiness of the triumph, but the Lord of Holiness is not such-an-one as we are.
Neither shall evil dwell with thee. He will not afford it the meanest shelter. Neither on earth nor in heaven shall evil share the mansion of God. Oh, how foolish are we if we attempt to entertain two guests so hostile to one another as Christ Jesus and the devil! Rest assured, Christ will not live in the parlour of our hearts if we entertain the devil in the cellar of our thoughts.
Thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness. As a man that cutteth with a dull knife is the cause of cutting, but not of the ill-cutting and hacking of the knife—the knife is the cause of that; or if a man strike upon an instrument that is out of tune, he is the cause of the sound, but not of the jarring sound—that is the fault of the untuned strings; or, as a man riding upon a lame horse, stirs him—the man is the cause of the motion, but the horse himself of the halting motion: thus God is the author of every action, but not of the evil of that action—that is from man. He that makes instruments and tools of iron or other metal, he maketh not the rust and canker which corrupteth them, that is from another cause; nor doth that heavenly workman, God Almighty, bring in sin and iniquity; nor can he be justly blamed if his creatures do soil and besmear themselves with the foulness of sin, for he made them good. Spencer’s Things New and Old.
Ver. 4-6. Here the Lord’s alienation from the wicked is set forth gradually, and seems to rise by six steps. First, he hath no pleasure in them; secondly, they shall not dwell with him; thirdly, he casteth them forth, they shall not stand in his sight; fourthly, his heart turns from them, thou hatest all the workers of iniquity; fifthly, his hand is turned upon them, thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing; sixthly, his spirit rises against them, and is alienated from them, the Lord will abhor the bloody man. This estrangement is indeed a strange (yet a certain) punishment to the workers of iniquity. These words, “the workers of iniquity,” may be considered two ways. First, as intending (not all degrees of sinners, or sinners of every degree, but) the highest degree of sinners, great, and gross sinners, resolved and wilful sinners. Such as sin industriously, and, as it were, artificially, with skill and care to get themselves a name, as if they had an ambition to be accounted workmen that need not to be ashamed of doing that whereof all ought to be ashamed; these, in strictness of Scripture sense, are “workers of iniquity.” Hence note, notorious sinners make sin their business, or trade. Though every sin be a work of iniquity, yet only some sinners are “workers of iniquity;” and they who are called so, make their calling to sin. We read of some who love and make a lie. Revelation 22:15. A lie may be told by those who neither love nor make it; but there are lie-makers, and they, sure enough, are lovers of a lie. Such craftsmen in sinning are also described in Psalms 58:2—”Yea, in heart ye work wickedness; ye weigh the violence of your hands in the earth.” The psalmist doth not say, they had wickedness in their heart, but they did work it there; the heart is a shop within, an underground shop; there they did closely contrive, forge, and hammer out their wicked purposes, and fit them into actions. Joseph Caryl.
God’s hatred of sin an example to his people.
The Treasury of David.
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