¨ [David] still repeats the same complaints which he made before, in order thereby to render his enemies more odious in the sight of God, and to call forth in his own behalf the mercy of God, who has promised to [help] those who are unjustly oppressed. And this is to be particularly attended to, that the more our enemies manifest their cruelty against us, or the more wickedly they vex us, we ought, with so much the greater confidence, to send up our groanings to heaven, because God will not suffer their rage to proceed to the uttermost, but will bring forth their malice and wicked devices to the light. JC
¨ In his mouth is nothing that should stand firm, keep its ground, remain the same. K&D, Franz Delitzsch
¨ [David] had spoken (vs. 6) of God’s hating the bloody and deceitful man. “Now, Lord,” says he, “that is the character of my enemies: they are deceitful; there is no trusting them, for there is no faithfulness in their mouth.” MH
“[…] their inward parts are very wickedness…”
¨ In the first place, he accuses them of treachery, because they speak nothing uprightly, or in sincerity; and the cause which he assigns for this is, that inwardly they are full of iniquity. JC
¨ […] their inward part, i.e. that towards which it goes forth and in which it has its rise is corruption. K&D, Franz Delitzsch
“[…] their throat is an open [tomb]…”
¨ He next compares them to [tombs]…, as if he had said, [they are gulfs which devour all]; meaning by this, their insatiable desire for shedding blood. JC
¨ [This] comes from to yawn, gape…, a yawning abyss and a gaping vacuum, and then, inasmuch as, starting from the primary idea of an empty space… It obtains the pathological sense of strong desire, passion, just as it does the intellectual sense of a loose way of thinking from a self-willed tendency. In Hebrew the prevalent word means corruption…, which is a metaphor for the abyss…, and proceeding from this meaning it denotes both that which is physically corruptible and, as in the present passage and frequently, that which is corruptible from and ethical point of view… The substance of their inward part is that which is corruptible in every way, and their throat, as the organ of speech…, a grave, which yawns like the jaws, which open and snatch and swallow down whatever comes in their way. K&D, Franz Delitzsch
¨ How dangerous is an open [tomb]; men in their journeys might easily stumble therein, and find themselves among the dead. Ah! take heed of the wicked man, for there is nothing that he will not say to ruin you; he will long to destroy your character, and bury you in the hideous [tomb] of his own wicked throat.
“[…] with their tongues they deal deceitfully.”
¨ In the close of the verse, he again speaks of their deceitfulness. From all this we conclude, that the wrongs with which he was tried were of no ordinary kind, but that he had to contend with enemies the most wicked, who had neither humanity nor moderation. Being so miserably oppressed, he not only perseveres in prayer, but finds ground of hope even from the confusion and apparent hopelessness of his outward condition. JC
¨ Their throat is thus formed and adapted, while they make smooth their tongue, in order to conceal their real design beneath flattering language. K&D, Franz Delitzsch
¨ If ever they speak what is good, it is in order the more effectually to destroy. JFB, A.R. Fausset
¨ The methods of [the wicked] are those of the serpent in
Since this passage is used by the apostle Paul in Rom. and is entirely relevant to this study of this verse, even expanding upon it, we will look there for a brief moment as well.
“An open grave is their throat; with their tongue they practice deception.”
¨ When Paul…, in quoting [Ps. 5:9], extends it to all mankind, both Jews and Gentiles, he does not give it a meaning of greater latitude than the Holy Spirit intended to give. Since he takes it as an undeniable point, that under the person of David, there is here described to us the Church, both in the person of Christ, who is the head, and in His members, it follows that all those ought to be reckoned among the number of his enemies, who have not been regenerated by the Spirit of God, whether they are without the pale of the visible Church, or within it… Paul, therefore, does not wrest these words from their genuine meaning when he applies them to all mankind, but asserts, with truth, that David showed in them what is the character of the whole human family by nature. JC
¨ It must be borne in mind that Paul is attempting to prove that by nature all people, without exception, are under the power of sin. In order to do so what specific type of sinfulness will he elect to use as an illustration…? Guided by the Holy Spirit, the apostle wisely selects the sin of the tongue to illustrate the universality of human sinfulness, for with respect to this evil who can truthfully say, “I am not guilty?” William Hendriksen
¨ [Paul] proceeds to instance… the corruption of man with respect to the members of his body…, [specifically mentioning] the organ of speech. MP
Here we have a picture of not only the lost specifically but the whole human race. Undoubtedly it is true that the unregenerate epitomize this description more fully and that they willfully use their wicked nature to advance their agenda against God and His people. The picture painted of these men is not flattering; it is rather grotesque, in fact, and troubling through and through. If you were to visualize the description given here you would see a very morbid beast waiting to devour those around them and carry them into the deepest pits of hell. Robert Hawker says, “What an awful view doth this unfold of the lurking of wickedness.” None of the inherent goodness of man is being taught in either of these passages. Nothing that would leave us to believe that the lost are all going to be found in heaven at the end in spite of their raging sinfulness as the Universalist would have us believe. No, all we have is this grotesque image of a raging beast seeking to serve self and devour all of those around them. I have marveled at times at the grotesque imagery of evil that
But it doesn’t stop there. The more pressing matter is that the ugliness of their heart manifests itself in their evil deeds. Willem VanGemeren describes it in this way, “The wicked are… described as instruments of destruction and death. By their reign of terror they are opposed to the God of life and truth. The heart of the wicked is full of “destruction” as they plot to destroy God’s established order. Their mouths, filled with lies and deceit, are likened to an open grave because of their deadly words. They speak words that rob people of their desire to live. With their slippery tongues they sow discord, hatred, and death.” They cannot restrain themselves, the ugliness of their hearts comes pouring out into the world and they attempt to assault, devour, and rip to pieces all traces of the good and the pure.
But lest we sit back on our laurels and think we have some special claim to righteous living in and of ourselves the apostle Paul uses these words to cut us to the heart. Anyone who denies the doctrine of Total Depravity must not have studied the verses under consideration here. The reality is that when left to ourselves, our nature is just as corrupt as the lost men of this world. Within us lies the capacity and, apart from God, the desire to commit all the sins known to mankind. We are equally grotesque monsters when left in our natural state. The beauty in Christians doesn’t lie in our natures, but because we too are seen through a prism: it is the imputed righteousness of Christ that makes us beautiful in the eyes of God. It is the work of God that allows us to escape the wretched nature we are born with. It is all Him, nothing else. Remember we discussed the double thy in 5:8? It is Christ’s righteousness that validates God’s children. A wonderful pastor and friend of mine, Phil Pockras, said this concerning the matter, “Note that the Psalm says "...in thy righteousness..." There is none we can claim. Were we to be led according to our own righteousness, it would be into cursing and everlasting condemnation. Only as we trust in imputed, alien righteousness accomplished by Christ is there hope, certain hope, of the way everlasting.”
We must view ourselves as we surely are: wicked men in need of a Redeemer (Rom. -26), adopted because of Christ (Rom. ); righteous through a free act of grace, a marvelous condescension from God to His elect (Eph. 2:8-9). Marvel not at self, for there is nothing to be found there worth marveling at, but marvel at what the Lord has accomplished in your life. Thomas Goodwin takes stock of the matter and says, “If the whole soul be infected with such a desperate disease, what a great and difficult work is it to regenerate, to restore men again to spiritual life and vigor, when every part of them is seized by such a mortal distemper! How great a cure doth the Spirit of God effect in restoring a soul by sanctifying it! To heal but the lungs or the liver, if corrupted, is counted a great cure, though performed but upon one part of thee; but all thy inward parts are very rottenness… How great a cure is it then to heal thee! Such is only in the skill and power of God to do.”
What are we left with then? Certainly there is a world around us that we are rightfully wary of. Certainly when that world wrongs us we can take our case to the Lord and know that He will vindicate us from wrongful assaults on our being or on our character, whatever the case may be. We can, through this truth, rest easy knowing that they cannot harm a single hair on our head without God’s approval. But we are also left with a deep realization of our own sinfulness, a sinfulness that exists in measure even after we are saved, and the great act of love with which God saved us. Think of it: the liberal wants to focus on God’s foreknowledge of man’s choice of Him; but the reality is that God indeed had foreknowledge and it showed Him nothing more than that we would sin against Him throughout our lives, to include every man that ever lived (Gen. 8:21), and yet He still chose us! How much more beautiful does Ps. 2:8 become when we realize that not only are we chosen in eternity, but that the Son asked for us as His inheritance! This not only knowing what great sin we would commit against God but knowing what great sacrifice it would take for Him to secure His inheritance! What beauty! What love! What unfathomable riches we are granted though we deserve only wrath! If we recognize all of this then surely we are left with pity for the wicked, with a desire to share the Gospel with them, to love them even as our Lord has loved us. I don’t say this is always easy, but if we are truly stricken by what the Lord has done for us how can we not desire the same for those around us? Though the personal injury may be great, still our offenses are greater.
May we, with a grateful heart and a humble spirit, take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, into the world with us as we go. May we yearn for the Spirit to give us the ability to skillfully present the truth, forever reminded of the debt we owed, so that we may [share the Gospel] as never sure to [share it] again, and as a dying man to dying men. May the Lord be forever exalted! Amen.