“The first quality for a commander-in-chief is a cool head to receive a correct impression of things,” said Napoleon I. “He should not allow himself to be confused by either good or bad news.”
[Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Worshipful, 1st ed., “Be” Commentary Series (Colorado Springs, CO: Cook Communications Ministries, 2004), 215.]
The title is simple.
The Psalm is for the Chief Musician, the Master of Song, and it is a Psalm of David.
The Chief Musician carried a heavy responsibility, but it was a great privilege to be the Leader of the songs and Director of the worship of the people of God.
The picture portrayed in this Psalm is a familiar one in the Psalter, and is found in so many of the Psalms of David.
The opening words call it a "complaint", but the Psalmist's difficult circumstances are lightened, as they usually are, by the knowledge that God will judge his enemies, to the eventual joy of the righteous.
These dual themes, the wicked machinations of evil men and the certainty of divine judgment, are, respectively, the subjects of the two parts of the Psalm.
M. Flanigan, What the Bible Teaches: Psalms, What the Bible Teaches Commentary Series (John Ritchie LTD Christian Publications, 2001), 274.]
Main Thought: The evil may win, but God will judge them [J.
Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary, electronic ed., vol. 2 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997), 781.]
Sub-intro: Note -
The BKC outlined this Psalm accordingly: A. The Prayer for Protection (vv.
1-2); B. The Problem of Malicious Schemes (vv.
3-6); C. The Prophecy of Divine Judgment (vv.
John Phillips outlined it as: 1. David’s Detractors (vv.
1-6); 2. David’s Defender (vv.
F. B. Meyer outlined as: Prayer for Preservation (vv.
1-6); Assurance of Divine Vindication (vv.
Scroggie divides as: Complaint (vv.
1-6); and Consolation (vv.
Flanigan as: The Malice and Mischief of the Wicked (vv.
1-6); The Righteous Judgment of God (vv.
Wiersbe as: Seek the Lord’s Protection (vv.
1-2); Ask for the Lord’s Wisdom (vv.
3-6); Trust the Lord for Victory (vv.
7-8); Give Glory to the Lord (vv.
Wilmington as: I. Protect Me! (vv.
Punish Them! (vv.
Praise God! (vv.
Constable as: 1.
A Plea for Protection (vv.
1-2); 2. The Ploys of Persecutors (vv.
3-6); 3. A Prediction of Punishment (vv.
Steveson as: 1.
The Cry of David (vv.
1-6); The Confidence of David (vv.
This psalm also has a historical background in the life of David, although we can’t locate it exactly.
Prophetically, it looks yonder in the future to the day when Israel will be in Great Tribulation and the godly remnant will use this psalm.
Someone might say, “My, there certainly are a lot of psalms for the Day of Jacob’s Trouble.”
Yes, there are, and the people are going to need every one of them.
Also, this is a very fine psalm for you and me.
...As I look at the world today, I have come to the conclusion that our hope is no longer in statesmen or politicians; our hope is no longer in science or education—they are all more or less failures.
We are going to have to do what David did and what Israel will do in the future—start looking up.
God is our only hope today.
Measure for measure | While Psalm 63 was focused on God, with the enemy on the edges of the picture, here the composition is reversed, although the outcome is the same.
In fact the brevity of God’s counter-measures, after the elaborate scheming of the wicked, tells its own decisive tale.
[Derek Kidner, Psalms 1–72: An Introduction and Commentary, vol.
15, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1973), 245.]
The Wounded Heart -
A. Wicked Plots (Psalm 64:5-6).
1. Encouraging Evil (Ps.
2. Investigating Iniquities (Ps.
These foes of David plan their wickedness.
They “encourage themselves in” (or “strengthen for themselves”) the evil they plot.
They secretly devise the trap that they lay for him.
This “evil matter” refers to the false accusations of vv.
They plot to lay “snares” (môqešîm, see 18:5) for David.
Because of their secrecy, they are confident that no one will catch them.
They “encourage themselves” (ḥazaq, see 27:14) in their wickedness, v. 5.
They “search out [ḥapaś, or ‘devise’] iniquities [ʿawlâ, see 7:3],” their wicked plans.
They carry out a “diligent [ḥapaś] search [ḥepeś].”
The word ḥapaś refers to searching or planning.
The threefold repetition in the verse emphasizes the plotting against the king.
These thoughts are “deep” (or “unsearchable”), v. 6. [Peter A. Steveson, Psalms (Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University Press, 2007), 242.]
B. Sudden Sniping (Psalm 64:4, 7).
The Wicked Shoot Suddenly (Ps.
By this point in the Psalter we have read lament after lament, and one more lament seems wearying to the soul.
But life is just like that at times.
One difficulty follows on the heels of another.
Another trouble arises as soon as one abates.
Just when order is emerging, chaos caves in on you.
The Psalter brings the realities of life to expression.
[Mark D. Futato, “The Book of Psalms,” in Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Vol 7: The Book of Psalms, The Book of Proverbs (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2009), 216.]
The Watching Heart -
2. God Shoots the Wicked Suddenly (Ps.
God Hits His Mark EVERY Time...
A greater archer than they are will take sure aim at their hearts.
H. Spurgeon, Psalms, Crossway Classic Commentaries (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1993), 260.]
The key word in Psalm 64 is suddenly, meaning “unexpectedly” or “without warning.”
It is used in the two main sections of the psalm: first, of the unexpected attacks of the wicked on the righteous (“they shoot at him suddenly, without fear,” v. 4) and, second, of the unexpected judgment of the wicked (“But God will shoot them with arrows; suddenly they will be struck down,” v. 7).
The parallel image, shooting with arrows, helps to enhance the contrast.
Together the two shootings strike a note of poetic justice, which carries throughout the psalm.
The wicked are done in by their own weapons.
[James Montgomery Boice, Psalms 42–106: An Expositional Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2005), 523–524.]
C. Confounded Tongues (Psalm 64:3, 8).
The Wicked Whet Their Tongue (Ps.
Sticks & Stones...
We have all heard that “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”
And if we have stopped to think about that rhyme, we have realized just how false it is.