Verse 4. Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked. To fall into their hands would be a calamity indeed. David in his most pitiable plight chose to fall into the hand of a chastising God rather than to be left in the power of men. No creature among the wild beasts of the wood is so terrible an enemy to man as man himself when guided by evil, and impelled by violence. The Lord by providence and grace can keep us out of the power of the wicked. He alone can do this, for neither our own watchfulness nor the faithfulness of friends can secure us against the serpentine assaults of the foe. We have need to be preserved from the smooth as well as the rough hands of the ungodly, for their flatteries may harm us as much as their calumnies. The hands of their example may pollute us, and so do us more harm than the hands of their oppression. Jehovah must be our keeper, or evil hands will do what evil hearts have imagined and evil lips have threatened. Preserve me from the violent man. His intense passion makes him terribly dangerous. He will strike anyhow, use any weapon, smite from any quarter: he is so furious that he is reckless of his own life if he may accomplish his detestable design. Lord, preserve us by thine omnipotence when men attack us with their violence. This prayer is a wise and suitable one. Who have purposed to overthrow my goings. They resolve to turn the good man from his resolve, they would defeat his designs, injure his integrity, and blast his character. Their own goings are wicked, and therefore they hate those of the righteous, seeing they are a standing rebuke to them. This is a forcible argument to use in prayer with God: he is the patron of holiness, and when the pure lives of his people are in danger of overthrow, he may be expected to interpose. Never let the pious forget to pray, for this is a weapon against which the most determined enemy cannot stand.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 4. Keep me, etc. From doing as they do, or as they would have me do, or as they promise themselves I will do. --Matthew Henry.
Verse 4. Preserve me from the violent man. The second clause of the first versicle of this verse is the same as the second versicle of Psalms 140:1 , which seems the burden of the song. --"Speaker's Commentary."
Verse 4. To overthrow my goings. To take my feet from under me, to destroy the basis of belief, the power of advance in good works, that we may turn back from the way of salvation, or fall upon it, or, at any rate, may go very slowly along it. --Neale and Littledale.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 4. (first clause). A wise prayer. The wicked will slander, and oppress, or mislead, flatter and defile. No one can keep us but the Lord.