Verse 2. For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me. Wicked men must needs say wicked things, and these we have reason to dread; but in addition they utter false and deceitful things, and these are worst of all. There is no knowing what may come out of mouths which are at once lewd and lying. The misery caused to a good man by slanderous reports no heart can imagine but that which is wounded by them: in all Satan's armoury there are no worse weapons than deceitful tongues. To have a reputation, over which we have watched with daily care, suddenly bespattered with the foulest aspersions, is painful beyond description; but when wicked and deceitful men get their mouths fully opened we can hardly expect to escape any more than others.
They have spoken against me with a lying tongue. Lying tongues cannot lie still. Bad tongues are not content to vilify bad men, but choose the most gracious of saints to be the objects of their attacks. Here is reason enough for prayer. The heart sinks when assailed with slander, for we know not what may be said next, what friend may be alienated, what evil may be threatened, or what misery may be caused to us and others. The air is full of rumours, and shadows impalpable flit around; the mind is confused with dread of unseen foes, and invisible arrows. What ill can be worse than to be assailed with slander,
"Whose edge is sharper than the sword, whose tongue
Out venoms all the worms of Nile"?
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 2. For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me. Speak, says Arnobius, to thine own conscience, O man of God, thou who art following Christ; and when the mouth of the wicked and deceitful man is opened concerning thee, rejoice and be secure; because while the mouth of the wicked is opened for thy slander in the earth, the mouth of God is opened for thy praise in heaven. -- Lorinus.
Verse 2-3. Note, first, the detractor opens his mouth, that he may pour forth his poison, and that he may devour his victim. Hence, David says, "the mouth of the wicked is opened against me." Note, secondly, the detractor is talkative -- They have spoken, etc. The mouth of the detractor is a broken pitcher leaking all over. Note, thirdly, detraction springs from hatred, "they compassed me about also with words of hatred." In Greek, ekuklwoan me, ie., as in a circle they have enclosed me. St. Climacus says, "Detraction is odii partus, a subtle disease, a fat but hidden leech which sucks the blood of charity and after destroys it." --Lorinus.
Verse 2-5. The mouth of the wicked, etc.
Vice -- deformed
Itself, and ugly, and of flavour rank --
To rob fair Virtue of so sweet an incense
And with it to anoint and salve its own
Rotten ulcers, and perfume the path that led
To death, strove daily by a thousand means:
And oft succeeded to make Virtue sour
In the world's nostrils, and its loathly self
Smell sweetly. Rumour was the messenger
Of defamation, and so swift that none
Could be the first to tell an evil tale.
It was Slander filled her mouth with lying words;
Slander, the foulest whelp of Sin. The man
In whom this spirit entered was undone.
His tongue was set on fire of hell; his heart
Was black as death; his legs were faint with haste
To propagate the lie his tongue had framed
His pillow was the peace of families
Destroyed, the sigh of innocence reproached,
Broken friendships, and the strife of brotherhoods.
Yet did he spare his sleep, and hear the clock
Number the midnight watches, on bis bed
Devising mischief more; and early rose
And made most hellish meals of good men's names.
Peace fled the neighbourhood in which he made
His haunts; and, like a moral pestilence,
Before his breath the healthy shoots and blooms
Of social joy and happiness decayed.
Fools only in his company were seen,
And those forsaken of God, and to themselves
Given up. The prudent man shunned him and his house
As one who had a deadly moral plague. --Robert Pollok.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 2. Slander. Its cause -- wickedness and malice. Its instruments -- deceit and lies. Its frequency -- Jesus and the saints slandered. Its punishment. Our resort when tried by it -- prayer to God.