Psalm 55:21

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 21. The words of his mouth were smoother than butter. He lauded and larded the man he hoped to devour. He buttered him with flattery and then battered him with malice. Beware of a man who has too much honey on his tongue; a trap is to be suspected where the bait is so tempting. Soft, smooth, oily words are most plentiful where truth and sincerity are most scarce.

But war was in his heart. He brought forth butter in a lordly dish, but he had a tent pin ready for the temples of his guest. When heart and lip so widely differ, the man is a monster, and those whom he assails are afflicted indeed.

His words were softer than oil. Nothing could be more unctuous and fluent, there were no objectionable syllables, no jars or discords, his words were as yielding as the best juice of the olive; yet were they drawn swords, rapiers unsheathed, weapons brandished for the fray. Ah! base wretch, to be cajoling your victim while intending to devour him! entrapping him as if he were but a beast of prey; surely, such art thou thyself.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 21. The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, etc. Of this complexion are the cant of hypocrites, the charity of bigots and fanatics, the benevolence of atheists, the professions of the world, the allurements of the flesh, and the temptations of Satan, when he thinks proper to appear in the character of an angel of light. George Horne, 1730-1792.

Verse 21. Butter. The Eastern butter is by no means like the solid substance, which is known by that name in these colder climates; but is liquid and flowing as appears from different passages in Scripture, particularly Job 29:6 20:17; and as is confirmed by the accounts of modern travellers; so that in fact it more resembles "cream," which Vitringa says is the genuine sense of the word here used. Richard Mant, 1776- 1849.

Verse 21. To avoid all difficulties, the readiest expedient is to receive the Septuagint rendering of wqlx diemerisyhsan, they were, or are divided, viz., the members of the wicked man there spoken of, they are at great distance one from the other; wyk tamxm, butter their mouth, or their mouth is butter, wklkrqw and war their heart, or their heart is war; and this seems to be the fairest rendering of it. Henry Hammond, 1605-1660.

Verse 21. A feigned friend is much like a crocodile who, when he smiles, poisons; and when he weepeth, devoureth; or the hyaena, having the voice of a man and the mind of a wolf, speaking like a friend and devouring like a fiend; or the flattering sirens that sweetly sing the sailor's wreck; or the fowler's pipe that pleasantly playeth the bird's death; or the bee, who carrieth honey in her mouth and a sting in her tail; or the box tree, whose leaves are always green, but the seeds poison. So his countenance is friendly and his words pleasant, but his intent dangerous, and his deeds unwholesome.

His fetch is to flatter, to catch what he can;
His purpose obtained, a fig for his man. L. Wright, 1616.

Verse 21. The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords. Well, when I came to the justice again, there was Mr. Foster, of Bedford, who coming out of another room, and seeing me by the light of the candle, for it was dark night when I came thither, he said unto me, "Who is there? John Bunyan?" with much seeming affection, as if he would have leaped in my neck and kissed me, (A right Judas.), which made me somewhat wonder that such a man as he, with whom I had so little acquaintance, and, besides, that had ever been a close opposer of the ways of God, should carry himself so full of love to me, but afterwards when I saw what he did, it caused me to remember those sayings, Their tongues were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords, and again, "Beware of men," etc. When I had answered him that, blessed be God, I was well, he said, "What is the occasion of your being here?" or to that purpose. To whom I answered that I was at a meeting of people a little way off, intending to speak a word of exhortation to them; but the justice hearing thereof (said I) was pleased to send his warrant to fetch me before him, etc.

John Bunyan. In relation to J.B.'s imprisonment: written by himself. Offor's edit., Vol.

  1. p.

Verse 21. (first clause). --

Smooth are his words, his voice as honey sweet,
Yet war was in his heart, and dark deceit. Moschus (B.C. 250.)

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 21. The hypocrite's mouth.

  1. It has many words.
  2. They are only from his mouth.
  3. They are very smooth.
  4. They conceal rather than reveal his purpose.
  5. They are cutting and killing.
  6. They will kill himself.