Verse 3. I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes. I will neither delight in it, aim at it or endure it. If I have wickedness brought before me by others I will turn away from it, I will not gaze upon it with pleasure. The psalmist is very sweeping in his resolve, he declines the least, the most reputable, the most customary form of evil -- no wicked thing; not only shall it not dwell in his heart, but not even before his eyes, for what fascinates the eye is very apt to gain admission into the heart, even as Eve's apple first pleased her sight and then prevailed over her mind and hand.
I hate the work of them that turn aside. He was warmly against it; he did not view it with indifference, but with utter scorn and abhorrence. Hatred of sin is a good sentinel for the door of virtue. There are persons in courts who walk in a very crooked way, leaving the high road of integrity; and these, by short cuts, and twists, and turns, are often supposed to accomplish work for their masters which simple honest hearts are not competent to undertake; but David would not employ such, he would pay no secret service money, he loathed the practices of men who deviate from righteousness. He was of the same mind as the dying statesman who said, "Corruption wins not more than honesty." It is greatly to be deplored that in after years he did not keep himself clear in this matter in every case, though, in the main he did; but what would he have been if he had not commenced with this resolve, but had followed the usual crooked Policy of Oriental princes? How much do we all need divine keeping! We are no more perfect than David, nay, we fall far short of him in many things; and, like him, we shall find need to write a psalm of penitence very soon after our psalm of good resolution.
It shall not cleave to me. I will disown their ways, I will not imitate their policy: like dirt it may fall upon me, but I will wash it off, and never rest till I am rid of it. Sin, like pitch, is very apt to stick. In the course of our family history crooked things will turn up, for we are all imperfect, and some of those around us are far from being what they should be; it must, therefore, be one great object of our care to disentangle ourselves, to keep clear of transgression, and of all that comes of it: this cannot be done unless the Lord both comes to us, and abides with us evermore.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 3. Wicked thing. The original hath it, if we will render it word for word, "I will set no word of Belial before mine eyes." But word is figuratively there put for thing; as likewise Psalms 41:8 ; and so is it rendered both by Montanus in the margin, and in the text by Junius; howbeit, in his comment upon this psalm, he precisely follows the original, applying it against sycophants and flatterers, the mice and moths of court. --George Hakewill.
Verse 3. I hate the work of them that turn aside. Mr. Schultens hath shown in his commentary on Proverbs 7:25 that hjf hath a much stronger and more significant meaning than that of mere turning aside; and that it is used of an unruly horse, that champs upon the bit through his fiery impatience; and when applied to a bad man, denotes one impatient of all restraint, of unbridled passions, and that is headstrong and ungovernable in the gratification of them, trampling on all the obligations of religion and virtue. Such as these are the deserved objects of the hatred of all good men, whose criminal deviations and presumptuous crimes they detest; none of which shall cleave to them; they will not harbour the love of, or inclination to them, nor habitually commit them, or encourage the practice of them. Persons of this character are too frequently about the courts of princes, but it is their honour and interest, as far as ever they can, to discountenance them. --Samuel Chandler.
Verse 3. It shall not cleave to me. A bird may light upon a man's house; but he may choose whether she shall nestle or breed there, or no: and the devil or his instruments may represent a wicked object to a man's sight; but he may choose whether he will entertain or embrace it or no. For a man to set wicked things before his eyes is nothing else but to sin of set purpose, to set himself to sin, or to sell himself to sin, as Ahab did, 1 Kings 21:1-29 . - -George Hakewill.
Verse 3. It shall not cleave to me. A wicked plan or purpose is thus represented as having a tendency to fasten itself on a man, or to "stick to him" -- as pitch, or wax, or a burr does. --Albert Barnes.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 3. --
- The sight of wickedness is to be avoided: "I will set no wicked thing," etc.
- When seen it is to be loathed: "I Hate," etc.
- When felt it is to be repudiated. It may touch me, but "it shall not cleave to me."