Psalm 140

Rescue me, Yahweh, from the evil man; * from the violent character protect me,
    for they plan evil things in their hearts, * and all day long think of war.
    They sharpen their tongue like a serpent; * viper's venom is under their lips.
        Guard me, Yahweh, from the hands of the wicked; * from the violent character protect me.
        Because they plan to trip my feet, * the presumptuous have hidden a trap for me.
        Terrorists have spread out a net, * and put snares for me at the edge of the path.
            I said, "Yahweh, you are my God; * listen, Yahweh, to my plea for mercy.
            Yahweh, my Lord, my fortress of safety, * shelter me on the day of battle!"
        Yahweh, do not grant the wishes of the wicked; * do not promote his evil design, Exalted.
        The mischief-makers who surround me * may the poison of their lips drown them!
        May he heap hot coals on them, * plunge them into the Fire, * let them not rise from the mud pit.
    The man with a tongue: * may he find nowhere to settle!
    The man of violence: * may the Evil One hunt him into Exile!
    I know that Yahweh will maintain * the cause of the persecuted, the rights of the poor.
The just will certainly praise your Name; * the upright will dwell before your face.

1. Unto the end, a psalm of David.

140:0 This is Psalm 140 (Vul: 139) in the whole book, the 40th of the third part. In the previous Psalm he shows that he would not turn away from God nor join the wicked in his mind, even though he was with them bodily. Since the good who are linked bodily to the wicked suffer much from them, here he asks to be delivered from them, and in the meantime to be protected against them, attributing his security not to his own powers, but to God's power.

The meaning of the title is that this Psalm leads us to our destination, which is Christ who is, as said in Romans 10:4, the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. The Psalm is of David, which is the congregation of the just calling to God in the Church. It is aptly called "David" because of its fortitude and spiritual beauty. By its fortitude it stands up against the enemy, by its beauty it pleases God.

The Psalm is divided into two main parts: (1) He asks to be liberated perfectly from the wicked and evil. (2) He describes further the evil of the wicked who persecute the good, and the goodness of the good who are persecuted: "10. The head of them". In the first he asks to be delivered (1) from the pain and misery that the wicked inflict on him, (2) from the guilt into which they intend to cast him: "7. I said". In the first, (1) he asks, (2) he shows the necessity of asking: "3. who have devised". In the first he asks to be delivered (1) from the evil man generally, who hurts him or another, (2) from a wicked man who hurts another particularly: "rescue me".

2. Deliver me, O Lord, from the evil man: rescue me from the unjust man.
Rescue me, Yahweh, from the evil man; from the violent character protect me,

140:1.1.1 The idea is: Lord, I cannot flee from you while I am bodily in the midst of the wicked, even though my mind is separated from them. But Lord, I ask, deliver me from the evil man, the singular standing for the plural: evil men, as in Psalm 105:34 He spoke and brought the locust, grasshoppers beyond all counting. The evil man can stand for the devil, as the Gloss remarks about this verse. The devil is sometimes called a man -Mat 13:28 An enemy man has done this. He is called a man (1) after man whom he throws down, as Scipio Africanus says, or (2) because against the first man he used an articulate voice, which is proper to man, or (3) because he simulated a reasoning process to deceive the first man. Another reference: Ps 9:20 Arise, Yahweh, lest men should boast. The Lord delivers his own from him as a good shepherd saves a lamb from a wild lion -Amos 3:12 As the shepherd rescues from the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear, so shall the people of Israel be rescued. Or the verse could refer to an evil man properly speaking, which can be any sinner, who does harm at least to himself, even if not to others.

From the unjust man, the devil, who can be called a man because of the perverse strength that he has. -Luke 11:21 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his castle. Or the unjust man can refer to a man who harms another -Job 36:15 He delivers the afflicted from his affliction. -Sir 51:12 He saved me from evil of every kind. -Acts 12:11 He delivered me from the hand of Herod.

3. Who have devised iniquities in their hearts: all the day long they designed battles.
for they plan evil things in their hearts, and all day long think of war.

140: Here he shows the necessity of his request, and that is his adversaries' malice (1) of heart, (2) of mouth: "They have sharpened", (3) of deed: "5. Keep me". He notes that their malice of heart is (1) hidden, (2) continuous: "all day", and (3) obdurate: "they designed battles". The idea is: I request pushed out of necessity, because those evil and wicked men devised iniquities in their hearts, in their hearts' interior secret depths. -Jer 17:9 The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse - who can understand it? -Wis 1:9 Inquiry will be made into the counsels of the ungodly by the supreme and true judge. -Micah 2:1 Alas for those who devise wickedness. -Sir 12:16 In his heart he schemes to plunge you into the abyss. -Jer 11:19 Against me they devised schemes.

The whole day, continuously, they designed, firmly arranging, battles against me, to fight me and stir up discord and dissension. As for fighting me -Jer 20:10 Let us we can prevail against him, and take our revenge on him. -Jer 18:23 Yet you, Yahweh, know all their plotting to kill me. As for stirring up discord -Prov 6:16, 19 There are six things that Yahweh hates, seven that are an abomination to him:... and one who sows discord in a family. -Jer 11:9 Conspiracy exists among the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

4. They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent: the venom of asps is under their lips.
They sharpen their tongue like a serpent; viper's venom is under their lips.

140: Here is persecution by way of mouth, which is (1) sharp and (2) deceitful: "like a serpent", (3) harmful: "the venom". The idea is: They persecute with their heart, and also they sharpen their tongues with bitter words, like penetrating curses -Ps 64:4 who sharpen their tongue like a sword, which they train to speak lies. And that they did like serpents -Qoheleth 10:11 If a snake bites silently, someone who detracts secretly does nothing less (Vul). -Prov 23:31 It goes down smoothly. At the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like an adder.

Thirdly, the venom of vipers is under their lips, that is, in the words coming from their mouths. -Deut 32:32 the cruel venom of vipers. -Job 20:12 Though wickedness is sweet in their mouth, though they hide it under their tongues.

5. Keep me, O Lord, from the hand of the wicked: and from unjust men deliver me.
Guard me, Yahweh, from the hands of the wicked; from the violent character protect me.

140: Here is their malice and persecution by deed, in four points: (1) the persecution, (2) the intent of the persecution: "who have proposed", (3) the manner of persecution: "The proud have hidden", (4) its purpose: "And they have stretched out". The idea is: They plot and speak, but you, O Lord, keep me from the hand, that is, the power, of the wicked, that is, of the devil, who is rightly called a sinner, both because of his habit of sinning, which he has not stopped doing from the beginning, and because of the seriousness of his sin, since he is a murderer -John 8:44 He was a murderer from the beginning. -Hab 1:17 destroying nations without pity. But God rescues his own from the devil's hand. -Gen 9:5 For your own lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning from every animal. -Jer 15:21 I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.

And from unjust men, who harm me exteriorly by their action, deliver me. -Sam 17:37 Yahweh, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine. -Job 5:15 He saves the needy from the edge of the sword, from the hand of the mighty.

Who have proposed to supplant my steps:
Because they plan to trip my feet,

140: Here is the intent of the persecutors, with the idea: Protect me from those who persecute me by deed and action, who planned to trip my feet, by which I walked in the way of God, intending to draw me away from that way. -Prov 4:16 For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong; they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble. -Jer 9:3 Every brother aims but to supplant, if he can, but the Lord protects his own. -Ps 37:31 The law of God is in his heart, and his feet never slip.

6. The proud have hidden a net for me.
the presumptuous have hidden a trap for me.

140: Here is the manner of persecution, which is hidden. The idea is: Persecuting me with that intention and manner, the proud demons and evil proud men have hidden a trap for me, namely, that persecution, intending to push me into the sin of impatience and blasphemy. -Jer 5:26 For scoundrels are found among my people; they take over the goods of others. Like fowlers they set a trap; they catch human beings. -Job 18:10 A rope is hid for them in the ground, a trap for them in the path. The devil acts similarly -Gen 3:15 And you will strike his heel. Or: They hid under prosperity a trap of pride. -1 Tim 3:6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.

And they have stretched out cords for a snare: they have laid for me a stumblingblock by the wayside.
Terrorists have spread out a net, and put snares for me at the edge of the path.

140: Here is the purpose of the persecution: (1) to trap me into sin, (2) once trapped, to make me fall into hell: "they have laid". The idea is: They persecute in hiding and have spread out the cords of their own sins which they commit by afflicting me or show to me as a snare, trying to pull me and make me fall into sin. -Prov 5:22 The sinner is caught in the meshes of his own sin. -Prov 7:16 With coverings I have decked my couch, that is, my heart, where I should rest. -Qoheleth 4:12 A threefold cord is not quickly broken: the sin of heart, mouth and deed.

They extended ropes to trap me and make me fall into sin, and also they laid a stumbling block, for me to trip and fall into hell, alongside the road, not on the road. The trap and stumbling block making one fall into hell is a sin that is persevering. It is is alongside the road when it seems good or not so bad. For the true way of going to God is to follow his commandments. -Is 35:8 On this way no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray. -Is 30:21 And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." A stumbling block is place alongside the road when an evil is proposed to look good. -Augustine to Jerome: Some vices are similar to virtues, such as astuteness and prudence, stinginess and parsimony, stubbornness and constancy.

7. I said to the Lord: Thou art my God:
I said, "Yahweh, you are my God;

140:1.2.1 Here he prays that, once delivered, he may not fall back, with four points: (1) By directing his heart to God himself he truly acknowledges God, (2) He asks to be heard: "hear, O Lord", (3) He says why he acknowledged God himself: "O Lord, Lord", (4) He says what he asks for: "Give me not up". The idea is: Lord, rescue me as I asked, and all of you should know that I said to the Lord, directing my heart to him, You are my God. -Baruch 3:6 For you are the Lord our God, and it is you, O Lord, whom we will praise. -Deut 26:17 Today Yahweh has gotten your agreement to be his people.

hear, O Lord, the voice of my supplication.
listen, Yahweh, to my plea for mercy.

140:1.2.2 That is why I say, Hear, O Lord, the voice of my supplication, because I humble myself in this acknowledgement, and that pleases you. -Judith 9:11 You are the God of the lowly, helper of the oppressed, upholder of the weak, protector of the forsaken, savior of those without hope. -Dan 9:17 Listen to the prayer and pleading of your servant.

8. O Lord, Lord, the strength of my salvation: thou hast overshadowed my head in the day of battle.
Yahweh, my Lord, my fortress of safety, shelter me on the day of battle!"

140:1.2.3 Here he gives the reasons for his acknowledgement why he considers the Lord God his own: (1) because he gives the grace to come to salvation, (2) because he refreshes in the heat of trouble and temptation: "you have overshadowed". The idea is: I said that you are my God, and that is true, because, Lord, Lord, which he is by creation and recreation, the strength of my salvation, that is, by which I reach salvation -Dan 2:20 Wisdom and power are his alone. -Sam 22:2 Yahweh is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer.

After giving me the truth, you overshadowed, giving coolness to my head, that is, my mind, by infusing the dew and strength of grace, on the day of battle against the heat of temptations and troubles. -Wis 19:7 Overshadowing the camp there was the cloud. -Sir 35:16 He is their mighty shield and strong support, a shelter from the heat, a shade from the noonday sun. -Is 4:5-6 Over all the glory there will be a canopy. It will serve as a pavilion, a shade by day from the heat, from the battle heat of tempations and troubles. -Job 40:32 You have only to lay a finger on him never to forget the struggle or risk it again. -Is 28:6 Yahweh will be a strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.

9. Give me not up, O Lord, from my desire to the wicked: they have plotted against me;
Yahweh, do not grant the wishes of the wicked;

140: Here he specifies what he asks of God: (1) not to be allowed to fall back by sin into the hands of the devil, (2) not to be abandoned if he should happen to fall back: "do not forsake me". In the first he (1) specifies what he asks, (2) gives a reason why he should be heard: "they have plotted". The idea is: I asked the Lord to hear me, calling him "my God", and saying in my petition: O Lord, give me not up, that is, do not let me be given up to the sinner, that is, the devil, and that by my desire. All this comes to saying: So that I may not be handed back to the devil, if I am rescued by you, my desire must intervene. And that is true -Sir 18:30 Do not follow your base desires. -Sir 23:5 and remove evil desire from me. -Is 51:23 Bow down, that we may walk on you, that is, we cannot pass unless you bow down. The argument is that the devil does not send bad thoughts, but only excites bad desires. -Is 54:16 I who have created the smith who blows the fire of coals.

Giving the reason why he should be heard, he says: Because of their malice, you should not hand me over, since they have plotted against me. He does not say what they plotted to do, but hints that they thought of every evil at once. -Jer 18:23 Yet you, Yahweh, know all their plotting to kill me. Here is the third mention of their evil plotting, because they thought they could win by the infamous number of three. -1 John 2:16 All that is in the world-- the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches.

do not thou forsake me, lest they should triumph.
do not promote his evil design, Exalted.

140: Here he asks not to be abandoned, stating (1) the petition, (2) a reason: "lest they". The idea is: Lord, I ask you not to hand me over, and even if you should do so, do not abandon me in their hands, lest I be forced to say (Is 49:14): Yahweh has abandoned me; the Lord has forgotten me. -Joshua 1:5 I will not fail you or abandon you.

He asks: Lord, do not abandon me, if for no other reason than this, lest they should triumph. -Deut 32:27 I feared provocation by the enemy, for their adversaries might misunderstand and say, "Our hand is triumphant; it was not Yahweh who did all this". -Esther 14:14 Lord, do not hand your scepter over to those who are nothing, lest they laugh at our ruin (Vul addition). -Sir 23:3 lest I succumb to my foes, and my enemy rejoice over me.

10. The head of them compassing me about:
The mischief-makers who surround me

140:2.1.1 In this second part he describes (1) the evils that happen to those who persecute the good, (2) the goodness and the rewards of the just who are persecuted: "I know". The evils are seven: (1) the frustration of their intention, (2) their labor in lying and covering up their wickedness: "the labor", (3) the corruption of their natural goods by sin: "burning coals", (4) their falling into sin: "you will cast them", (5) their collapse in trouble: "in miseries", (6) their inability to be corrected: "a man full of tongue", (7) their eternal damnation: "evil shall catch". The idea is: Lord, I asked to be rescued, not handed over, not abandoned to the hands of the wicked. For their head, that is, their intention is a circle, that is, without end and, being circular, is not directed to you. The Gloss has two other interpretations: One is that "circle" is in the genitive case, so that the verse reads: O Lord, you cast a shadow over my head, and over the head of all vices, namely, pride. -Tob 4:14 Never let pride dominate your thought or words, for it is the beginning of all ruin (Vul). Or: the shadow of their circle, that is, of their life, which goes in a circle. -Judges 16:23 The blinded Samson spent his time turning the mill in the prison. -Ps 12:9 On every side the wicked prowl. -Is 19:14 Yahweh has poured into them a spirit of confusion. Or: the word "circle" could be in the nominative case, so that the verse reads: Lord, you will convert my head, but the head of the wicked is a circle, that is, the devil, since the devil is emphatically called a circel, because he does not stop going around. -Job 1:7 I have gone around the earth, walking all over it. -1 Peter 5:8 Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour.

the labour of their lips shall overwhelm them.
may the poison of their lips drown them!

140:2.1.2 The idea is: Their intention is circular and in vain, because it is endless, and the labor of their lying lips, that is, a lie prepared and multiplied with great labor -Hosea 12:1 Ephraim herds the wind, and pursues the east wind all day long-- will cover them, that is, defend them. -Prov 10:6 The mouth of the wicked conceals violence. -Is 28:15 We have made lies our refuge, and in falsehood we have taken shelter.

11. Burning coals shall fall upon them;
May he heap hot coals on them,

140:2.1.3 Here is the corruption of their natural endowments through the heat of concupiscence, with the idea: Their intention will be frustrated, and they will be protected by an elaborate lie, and also burning coals, that is, the heat of concupiscence, will fall on them, setting them on fire and burning them. -Prov 6:27-28 Can fire be carried in the bosom without burning one's clothes? Or can one walk on hot coals without scorching the feet? -Is 54:16 See it is I who have created the smith who blows the fire of coals. Or: the coals can be taken for something good, giving the reading: Burning coals, that is, the saints alive with the fire of the Holy Spiriti, will fall upon them, putting them down as they promote the good. -Ps 120:4 It will be like sharpened arrows of a warrior, like red-hot charcoal.

thou wilt cast them down into the fire:
plunge them into the Fire,

140:2.1.4 This is permitting them to fall into sin. -Ps 58:9 Fire fell and they did not see the sun (Vul). -Joel 1:19 Fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness. -Lam 2:3 He has burned like a flaming fire in Jacob, consuming all around.

in miseries they shall not be able to stand.
let them not rise from the mud pit.

140:2.1.5 Here is their collapsing in trouble, with the idea: Let coals fall on them and they will not be able to stand, stable in virtue and patience, in their miseries, adversities and troubles, but rather they will collapse. -Mat 7:27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, because it was built on sand, and not on the rock which is Christ. -Lam 1:8 Jerusalem sinned grievously, so she has become a mockery (Vul: instable).

12. A man full of tongue shall not be established in the earth:
The man with a tongue: may he find nowhere to settle!

140:2.1.6 Here is their inability to be corrected, with the idea: They will fall because of impatience, and truly, because a man with a tongue, who likes to speak without attention and deliberation, will not be directed by correction on the earth, in this earth in which we miserable people live. (1) A man with a tongue likewise suffers from poverty of every good. -Prov 14:23 Mere talk leads only to poverty. (2) And he acquires an unclean heart -Num 19:15 And every open vessel with no cover fastened on it is unclean. (3) and an anxious heart -Prov 21:23 To watch over mouth and tongue is to keep out of trouble. -Prov 10:19 When words are many, transgression is not lacking. (4) He inflames his own concupiscence -James 3:5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! (5) He hates correction -Sir 23:15 Those who are accustomed to using abusive language will never become disciplined as long as they live.

evil shall catch the unjust man unto destruction.
The man of violence: may the Evil One hunt him into Exile!

140:2.1.7 The previous evils will befall the impious and unjust in the present, and at last evil will catch the unjust man. If they befall the just man, he will escape them at death, [but as for the unjust,] -Prov 5:22 The iniquities of the wicked ensnare them, and they are caught in the toils of their sin at death. And then they will be mocked by God. -Prov 1:26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when panic strikes you. -Ps 2:4 The Enthroned laughs down from heaven; the Lord makes fun of them. And they will be confounded, caught by their iniquity -Jer 2:26 As a thief is shamed when caught, so the house of Israel shall be shamed. -Qoheleth 9:12 Like fish taken in a cruel net, and like birds caught in a snare, so mortals are snared at a time of calamity, when it suddenly falls upon them.

13. I know that the Lord will do justice to the needy,
I know that Yahweh will maintain the cause of the persecuted,

140:2.2.1 Here are the good things and rewards of the just: (1) the proof of the sentence for them against their enemies in the judgment, (2) revenge on the enemies who afflicted them: "and will revenge", (3) a confession of praise for the judgment and vengeance: "But as for the just", (4) open knowledge of God: "and the upright". The idea is: What I have enumerated will befall the wicked and impious, but I know, with the certitude of faith, that the Lord will do justice to the needy who is oppressed by the powerful. The needy is not the one who lacks [material] things, but the one who hungers and thirsts for virtue. -Is 11:4 With righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth. -Prov 22:22 Do not rob the poor because they are poor, or crush the afflicted at the gate. -Prov 23:10-11 Do not remove an ancient landmark or encroach on the fields of orphan, for their redeemer is strong; he will plead their cause against you.

and will revenge the poor.
the rights of the poor.

140:2.2.2 The idea is: He will give judgment for the needy, and also will avenge the poor. -Deut 32:35 = Rom 12:19 Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. -Sir 28:1 The vengeful will face the Lord's vengeance.

14. But as for the just, they shall give glory to thy name:
The just will certainly praise your Name;

140:2.2.3 The idea is: Judgment will be given for the just, but the just, not attributing to themselves those good things, will confess, with a confession of glory and thanksgiving, to your name, your renowned power and kindness, saying (Rev 19:7) Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory. -Is 35:10 They will come to Zion with singing. -Is 53:1 Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.

and the upright shall dwell with thy countenance.
the upright will dwell before your face.

140:2.2.4 The idea is: They will praise, and the upright, who are called just, will dwell before your face, to see which is supreme delight and eternal life. -John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they may know you by open vision, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. -Is 33:17 Your eyes will see the king in his beauty. -1 Cor 13:12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. -1 John 3:2 We will see him as he is. And there will be true satisfaction without being bored. -Ps 17:15 At the resurrection I will be filled with your being. -Is 60:5 Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice. May He bring us to that vision and radiance who is blessed etc.