Psalm 120:2

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 2. Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips. It will need divine power to save a man from these deadly instruments. Lips are soft: but when they are lying lips they suck away the life of character and are as murderous as razors. Lips should never be red with the blood of honest men's reputes, nor salved with malicious falsehoods. David says, "Deliver my soul": the soul, the life of the man, is endangered by lying lips; cobras are not more venomous, nor devils themselves more pitiless. Some seem to lie for lying sake, it is their sport and spirit: their lips deserve to be kissed with a hot iron; but it is not for the friends of Jesus to render to men according to their deserts. Oh for a dumb generation rather than a lying one! The faculty of speech becomes a curse when it is degraded into a mean weapon for smiting men behind their backs. We need to be delivered from slander by the Lord's restraint upon wicked tongues, or else to be delivered out of it by having our good name cleared from the liar's calumny.

And from a deceitful tongue This is rather worse than downright falsehood. Those who fawn and flatter, and all the while have enmity in their hearts, are horrible beings; they are the seed of the devil, and he worketh in them after his own deceptive nature. Better to meet wild beasts and serpents than deceivers: these are a kind of monster whose birth is from beneath, and whose end lies far below. It should be a warning to liars and deceivers when they see that all good men pray against them, and that even bad men are afraid of them. Here is to the believer good cause for prayer. "Deliver us from evil", may be used with emphasis concerning this business. From gossips, talebearers, writers of anonymous letters, forgers of newspaper paragraphs, and all sorts of liars, good Lord deliver us!

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 2. -- Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips, etc. An unbridled tongue is "vehiculum Diaboli", the chariot of the Devil, wherein he rides in triumph. Greenhorn doth describe the tongue prettily by contraries, or diversities: "It is a little piece of flesh, small in quantity, but mighty in quality; it is soft, but slippery; it goeth lightly, but falleth heavily; it striketh soft, but woundeth sore; it goeth out quickly, but burneth vehemently; it pierceth deep, and therefore not healed speedily; it hath liberty granted easily to go forth but it will find no means easily to return home; and being once inflamed with Satan's bellows, it is like the fire of hell." The course of an unruly tongue is to proceed from evil to worse, to begin with foolishness, and go on with bitterness, and to end in mischief and madness. See Ecclesiastes 10:13 . The Jew's conference with our Saviour began with arguments: "We be Abraham's seed," said they, etc.; but proceeded to blasphemies: "Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?" and ended in cruelty: "Then took they up stones to cast at him." John 8:33 John 8:48 John 8:59 . This also is the base disposition of a bad tongue to hate those whom it afflicts: Proverbs 26:28 .

The mischief of the tongue may further appear by the mercy of being delivered from it, for,

  1. So God hath promised it ( John 5:15 John 5:21 ). "God saveth the poor from the sword, from their mouth, and from the hand of the mighty," and "thou shalt be hid from the scourge of the tongue," or from being betongued, as some render it, that is, from being, as it were, caned or cudgelled with the tongues of others. "Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues" ( Psalms 31:20 ); that is, from all calumnies, reproaches, evil speakings of all kinds. God will preserve the good names of his people from the blots and bespatterings of malicious men, as kings protect their favourites against slanders and clamours.
  • So the saints have prayed for it, as David: "Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue." --Edward Reyner.

    Verse 2. -- Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips, etc. In the drop of venom which distils from the sting of the smallest insect, or the spike of the nettle leaf, there is concentrated the quintessence of a poison so subtle that the microscope cannot distinguish it, and yet so virulent that it can inflame the blood, irritate the whole constitution, and convert day and night into restless misery; so it is sometimes with the words of the slanderer. --Frederick William Robertson.

    Verse 2. -- Lying lips bore false witness against him, or with a "deceitful tongue" tried to ensnare him, and to draw something from him, on which they might ground an accusation. --George Horne.

     

    HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

    Verse 2. -- The unjustly slandered have, besides the avenging majesty of their God to protect them, many other consolations, as

    1. The consciousness of innocence to sustain them.
    2. The promise of divine favour to support them: "I will hide thee from the scourge of the tongue."
    3. There is the consideration to soothe: "Blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you," etc.
    4. That a lie has not usually a long life.
    5. There is, lastly, for comfort, the repairing influence of time. --R. Nisbet.

    Verse 2. -- A prayer against slander. We are liable to it; it would do us great injury and cause us great pain; yet none but the Lord can protect us from it, or deliver us out of it.