Psalm 119:85

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 85. The proud have digged pits for me, which are not after thy law. As men who hunt wild beasts are wont to make pitfalls and snares, so did David's foes endeavour to entrap him. They went laboriously and cunningly to work to ruin him, "they digged pits"; not one, but many. If one would not take him, perhaps another would, and so they digged again and again. One would think that such haughty people would not have soiled their fingers with digging; but they swallowed their pride in hopes of swallowing their victim. Whereas they ought to have been ashamed of such meanness, they were conscious of no shame, but, on the contrary, were proud of their cleverness; proud of setting a trap for a godly man. "Which are not after thy law." Neither the men nor their pits were according to the divine law: they were cruel and crafty deceivers, and their pits were contrary to the Levitical law, and contrary to the command which bids us love our neighbour. If men would keep to the statutes of the Lord, they would lift the fallen out of the pit, or fill up the pit so that none might stumble into it; but they would never spend a moment in working injury to others. When, however, they become proud, they are sure to despise others; and for this reason they seek to circumvent them, that they may afterwards hold them up to ridicule. It was well for David that his enemies were God's enemies, and that their attacks upon him had no sanction from the Lord. It was also much to his gain that he was not ignorant of their devices, for he was thus put upon his guard, and led to watch his ways lest he should fall into their pits. While he kept to the law of the Lord he was safe, though even then it was an uncomfortable thing to have his path made dangerous by the craft of wanton malice.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 85. -- Pits. Hajji said he would tell me a tale or two about crocodiles, and he would begin by telling me how they catch them sometimes. A deep pit, he said, is dug by the side of the river, and then covered with doura straw. The crocodiles fall into these pits, and cannot get out again... There can be no doubt that formerly pits were dug for the crocodiles, as Hajji described, as is the case still in some parts of the world or other animals. To this custom allusion is made in Psalms 7:15 9:15 10:2 35:8 141:10 Proverbs 26:27 Ec 10:8: etc. "He made a pit and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made." Probably also this was the kind of pit referred to in Exodus 21:33 : "If a man shall dig a pit, and not cover it"; i.e., not cover it effectually;" and an ass or an ox fall therein," etc.

Prisoners were sometimes shut up in pits, and left without water, literally to die of thirst. What a dreadful death! It is said that nothing can be more terrible. How dreadful must be their groans! --John Gadsby.

Verse 85. -- The proud have digged pits. It seems strange that a proud man should be a digger of pits; but so it is; for pride for a time can submit itself to gain a greater vantage over him whom it would tread under foot. "The wicked is so proud that he seeks not God, yet he croucheth and boweth, to cause heaps of the poor to fill by his might," Psalms 10:4 Psalms 10:10 . So proud Absalom abased himself to meanest subjects that so he might prepare a way to usurpation over his king and father. But mark, he saith not that he had fallen into the pits which his enemies had digged. No, no: in God's righteous judgments, the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands, while the good escape free. "He made a pit, and digged it," and is fallen into the ditch which he made. His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate. Psalms 7:15-16 . Thus Haman hanselled the gallows which he raised for Mordecai; and Saul, when he thought by subtlety to slay David with the Philistine's sword (when he sent him out to seek two hundred of their foreskins in a dowry) was disappointed of his purpose; but he himself at length was slain by the sword. --William Cowper.

Verse 85. -- Let men beware how they dig pits for others. All God's word testifies against such wickedness. How many tests are invented simply for the purpose of entangling men's consciences and furnishing ground for persecution. --William S. Plumer.

Verse 85. -- Which are not after thy law. Hebrew, Not after thy law. It may refer to the men or to the practice. The men walk not according to thy law, and their fraudulent practices are not agreeable to thy law. The law of God condemned pits for tame beasts: Exodus 21:33 Exodus 21:84 . Though it was lawful for hunters to take wild beasts, yet they were to take heed that a tame beast fell not therein, at their petal. --Thomas Manton.

Verse 85. -- Which are not after thy law. After God's law they could not be while they were doing such things. Perhaps he refers to the deed more than to the men "The proud have digged pits for me, which is not after thy law" -- which is against thy law; and they would seem to do it because it is against thy law -- delighting in wickedness as they do. Such men would seem to imbibe the foul spirit which Milton ascribes to the fallen archangel: "Evil, be thou my good." Obviously, however, the words contain this sentiment, -- The proud have sought to overthrow me, because they are not obedient to thy law. Hereupon he sets their conduct in the light of God's holy commandments, that the comparison may be made: "All thy commandments are faithful: they persecute me wrongfully." Whatever the Lord did was done in truth; these men acted against his servant without cause, and in so doing they also acted in defiance of his known will. --John Stephen.

Verse 85. -- The wicked have told me fables, but mot as thy law (So the Septuagint). The special reason why he desires to be freed from the company of the wicked is, because they always tempt the pious by relating the pleasures of the world, which are nothing but fables, filthy, fleeting pleasures, more fallacious than real -- nothing like the grand and solid pleasure that always flows from a pious observance of the law of the Lord. -- Robert Bellarmine.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 85. -- Pits; or, the secret schemes of wicked men against the godly.

Read Psalm 119:85