Verse 69. The proud have forged a lie against me. They first derided him ( Psalms 119:51 ), then defrauded him ( Psalms 119:61 ), and now they have defamed him. To injure his character they resorted to falsehood, for they could find nothing against him if they spoke the truth. They forged a lie as a blacksmith beats out a weapon of iron, or they counterfeited the truth as men forge false coin. The original may suggest a common expression -- "They have patched up a lie against me." They were not too proud to lie. Pride is a lie, and when a proud man utters lies "he speaketh of his own." Proud men are usually the bitterest opponents of the righteous: they are envious of their good fame and are eager to ruin it. Slander is a cheap and handy weapon if the object is the destruction of a gracious reputation; and when many proud ones conspire to concoct, exaggerate, and spread abroad a malicious falsehood, they generally succeed in wounding their victim, and it is no fault of theirs if they do not kill him outright. O the venom which lies under the tongue of a liar! Many a happy life has been embittered by it, and many a good repute has been poisoned as with the deadliest drug. It is painful to the last degree to hear unscrupulous men hammering away at the devil's anvil forging a new calumny; the only help against it is the sweet promise, "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue that riseth against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn."
But I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart. My one anxiety shall be to mind my own business and stick to the commandments of the Lord. If the mud which is thrown at us does not blind our eyes or bruise our integrity it will do us little harm. If we keep the precepts, the precepts will keep us in the day of contumely and slander. David renews his resolve -- "I will keep"; he takes a new look at the commands, and sees them to be really the Lord's -- "thy precepts"; and he arouses his entire nature to the work -- "with my whole heart." When slanders drive us to more resolute and careful obedience they work our lasting good; falsehood hurled against us may be made to promote our fidelity to the truth, and the malice of men may increase our love to God. If we try to answer lies by our words we may be beaten in the battle; but a holy life is an unanswerable refutation of all calumnies. Spite is balked if we persevere in holiness despite all opposition.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 69. -- The proud have forged a lie against me. If in the present day the enemies of the truth in their lying writings rail against the orthodox teachers in the Church, that is a very old artifice of the Devil, since David complains that in his day it happened unto him. --Solomon Gesner.
Verse 69. -- The proud have forged a lie. They trim up lies with shadows of truth and neat language; they have mints to frame their lies curiously in, and presses to print their lies withal. --William Greenhill, 1591-1677.
Verse 69. -- The proud. Faith humbleth, and infidelity maketh proud. Faith humbleth, because it letteth us see our sins, and the punishments thereof, and that we have no dealing with God but through the mediation of Christ; and that we can do no good, nor avoid evil, but by grace. But when men know not this, then they think much of themselves, and therefore are proud. Therefore all ignorant men, all heretics, and worldlings are proud. They that are humbled under God's hands, are humble to men; but they that despise God do also persecute his servants. --Richard Greenham.
Verse 69. -- Forged a lie. Vatablus translates it, "coneinnarunt mendacta". So Tremellius: they have trimmed up lies. As Satan can transform himself into an angel of light, so he can trim up his lies under coverings of truth, to make them the more plausible unto men. And indeed this is no small temptation, when lies made against the godly are trimmed up with the shadows of truth, and wicked men cover their unrighteous dealings with appearances of righteousness. Thus, not only are the godly unjustly persecuted, but simple ones are made to believe that they have most justly deserved it. In this case the godly are to sustain themselves by the testimony of a good conscience. --William Cowper.
Verse 69. -- Forged. expresses the essential meaning of the Hebrew word, but not its figurative form which seems to be that of sewing, analogous to that of weaving, as applied to the same thing, both in Hebrew and in other languages. We may also compare our figurative phrase, to patch up, which, however, is not so much suggestive of artifice or skill as of the want of it. The connection of the clauses is, that all the craft and malice of his enemies should only lead him to obey God, with a more undivided heart than ever. -- Joseph Addison Alexander.
Verse 69. -- Forged. The metaphor may be like the Greek (raptein doloul), from sewing or patching up: or, from smearing, or daubing (Delitzsch, Moll, etc.), a wall, so as to hide the real substance. The Psalmist remains true to God despite the falsehoods with which the proud smear and hide his true fidelity. --The Speaker's Commentary.
Verse 69. -- A lie. Satan's two arms by which he wrestles against the godly are violence and lies: where he cannot, or dare not, use violence, there be sure he will not fail to fight with lies. And herein doth the Lord greatly show his careful providence, in fencing his children against Satan's malice and the proud brags of his instruments, in such sort, that their proudest hearts are forced to forge lies; their malice being so great that they must do evil; and yet their power so bridled that they cannot do what they would. -- William Cowper.
Verse 69. -- I will keep thy precepts with my whole heart. Let the word of the Lord come, let it come; and if we had six hundred necks, we would submit them all to his dictates. -- Augustine.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 69. -- Wholehearted obedience the best solace under slander; the best answer to it; and the best way of converting the slanderers.