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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Psalms 141:6

 

 

Their judges are thrown down by the sides of the rock, And they hear my words, for they are pleasant.

Adam Clarke Commentary

When their judges are overthrown in stony places - סלע בידי biyedey sela, "In the hands of the rock." Does this rock signify a strong or fortified place; and its hands the garrison which have occupied it, by whom these judges were overthrown? If we knew the occasion on which this Psalm was made, we might be the better able to understand the allusions in the text.

They shall hear my words; for they are sweet - Some think there is here an allusion to David's generous treatment of Saul in the cave of En-gedi, and afterwards at the hill of Hachilah, in this verse, which might be translated: "Their judges have been dismissed in the rocky places; and have heard my words, that they were sweet." Or perhaps there may be a reference to the death of Saul and his sons, and the very disastrous defeat of the Israelites at Gilboa. If so, the seventh verse will lose its chief difficulty, Our bones are scattered at the grave's mouth; but if we take them as referring to the slaughter of the priests at Nob, then, in stead of translating שאול לפי lephi sheol, at the grave's mouth, we may translate at the command of Saul; and then the verse will point out the manner in which those servants of the Lord were massacred; Doeg cut them in pieces; hewed them down as one cleaveth wood. Some understand all this of the cruel usage of the captives in Babylon. I could add other conjectures, and contend for my own; but they are all too vague to form a just ground for decided opinion.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Psalms 141:6". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/psalms-141.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

When … - This passage is no less difficult than the preceding, and it seems almost impossible to determine its exact meaning. What is meant by “judges”? What judges are referred to by the word “their”? What is meant by their being “overthrown”? What is the sense of the words “in stony places”? Does the passage refer to some certain prospect that they “would be” overthrown, or is it a mere supposition which relates to something that “might” occur? Who are meant by “they,” in the phrase “they shall hear my words?” It seems to me that the most plausible interpretation of the passage is founded on that which has been assumed thus far in the explanation of the psalm, as referring to the state of things recorded in 1 Samuel 24:1-7. David was in the wilderness of En-gedi, in the midst of a rocky region. Saul, apprised of his being there, came with three thousand chosen men to apprehend him, and went into a cave to lie down to rest. Unknown, probably, to him, David and his men were in the “sides of the cave.” They now saw that Saul was completely in their power, and that it would be an easy thing to enter the cave, and kill him when off his guard. The men urgently advised David to do this. David entered the cave, and cut off the skirt of Saul‘s robe, showing how completely Saul was in his power, but he proceeded no further; he did not follow the suggestions of his friends; he did not take the life of Saul, as he might have done; and he even regretted what he had done, as implying a want of due respect for the anointed of the Lord, 1 Samuel 24:11. Yet he had the fullest confidence that the king and his forces would be overthrown, and that it would be done in a way consistent with open and manly war, and not in an underhanded and stealthful way, as it would have been if he had cut him off in the cave. With this in view, it seems to me that the difficult passage before us may be explained with, at least, some degree of plausibility.

Their judges - By the judges, are to be understood the rulers of the people; the magistrates; those in office and power - referring to Saul and the officers of his government. “Their judges;” to wit, the judges or rulers of the hosts in opposition to me - of those against whom I war; Saul and the leaders of his forces.

Are overthrown - Are discomfited, vanquished, subdued; as I am confident they will be, in the regular prosecution of the war, and not by treachery and stealth.

In stony places - literally, “in the hands of the rock;” or, as the word “hands” may sometimes be used, “in the sides of the rock.” It might mean “by the power of the rock,” as thrown upon them; or, “against its sides.” The essential idea is, that the “rocks,” the rocky places, would be among the means by which they would be overthrown; and the sense is, that now that Saul was in the cave - or was in that rocky region, better known to David than to him - Saul was so completely in his power, that David felt that the victory, in a regular course of warfare, would be his.

They shall hear my words - The followers of Saul; the people of the land; the nation. Saul being removed - subdued - slain - the people will become obedient to me who have been anointed by a prophet as their king, and designated as the successor of Saul. David did not doubt that he would himself reign when Saul was overcome, or that the people would hear his words, and submit to him as king.

For they are sweet - They shall be pleasant; mild; gentle; equitable; just. After the harsh and severe enactments of Saul, after enduring his acts of tyranny, the people will be glad to welcome me, and to live under the laws of a just and equal administration. The passage, therefore, expresses confidence that Saul and his hosts would be overthrown, and that the people of the land would gladly hail the accession to the throne of one who had been anointed to reign over them.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Psalms 141:6". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/psalms-141.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

When their judges are overthrown in stony places,.... The judges of David's adversaries, the workers of iniquity; meaning Saul, Abner, &c. Arama refers this to Saul and his sons being slain on the mountains of Gilboa, 1 Samuel 31:1; which might be here prophetically spoken of. Or, as it is by some rendered, "when their judges are let down by the sides of the rock"F4נשמטו בידי סלע "demittentur per loca saxosa", Tigurine version; "demissi sunt in manus petrae", Montanus; "dimittunt se in lateribue petrarum", Piscator. ; or let go free, as Saul was by David more than once; when it was in the power of his hands to have taken away his life, which his principal friends urged him to do, 1 Samuel 24:2. Some render the words as an imprecation or wish, "let their judges be cast down"F5"Praecipitentur", Munster; "dejiciantur", Gejerus; "praecipites dentur", Musculus; so Kimchi. ; or as a prophecy, they "shall be cast dozen in stony places", or "by the sides of a rock": so the word is used of casting or throwing down, 2 Kings 9:33; and may allude to the manner of punishment used in some places, by casting down from a precipice, from rocks and hills; see 2 Chronicles 25:12. Or, "when they slip by the sides of the rock"F6"Lubricati sunt per latere petrae", Cocceius. ; endeavouring to get up it; as ambitious men are desirous of getting to the top of honour, power, and authority, but stand in slippery places, and often slip and fall. And when this should be the case of these judges, then should David be raised up on high; the anointed of the God of Jacob, the sweet psalmist of Israel. And then

they shall hear my words, for these are sweet: that is, the common people should hear them, and be pleased with them, who had been set against him by their judges; by which they would easily perceive that he had no enmity nor malice, nor ill design against Saul. This may respect either his very affectionate lamentation at the death of Saul and his sons, 2 Samuel 1:17; or what he delivered at the several times he spared the life of Saul, when he could have taken it away, 1 Samuel 24:9; and it is especially true of all the words which David spoke by inspiration, or the Spirit of God spake to him; particularly in his book of Psalms, concerning the Messiah, the covenant of grace, and the blessings of it; of the rich experiences of grace he had, and the several doctrines of the Gospel declared by him; which were sweet, delightful, and entertaining to those who have ears to hear such things; or whose ears are opened to hear them, so as to understand them and distinguish them; but to others not.


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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Psalms 141:6". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/psalms-141.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall g hear my words; for they are sweet.

(g) The people who follow their wicked rulers in persecuting the prophet will repent and turn to God, when they see their wicked rulers punished.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Psalms 141:6". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/psalms-141.html. 1599-1645.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear my words; for they are sweet.

Judges — The chief of mine enemies.

Overthrown — Or, cast down headlong by thine exemplary vengeance.

Hear — Hearken unto my counsels and offers which now they despise.


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Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Psalms 141:6". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/psalms-141.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

6.Their judges have been thrown down upon stony places (240) Almost all interpreters agree, that the tense of the verb should be changed from the preterit to the future, and then resolve it into the optative —let them be thrown down. It appears to me that the sense of David would be made very plain by reading, When their judges have been cast down from the rock, or upon stony places, they shall hear my words. David, on perceiving the rage which the common people expressed towards him, as carried away through the influence of error and misrepresentation, lays the blame upon their leaders. When their power should be taken away, he is confident that the simple, who had been misled, would be brought to a right mind. Casting from the rocks, or upon stony places, is a metaphorical expression in reference to the high and dignified position in which they were placed. Although not without blame in following evil counselors so as to persecute unjustly a good and godly man, yet he had reason to entertain more hope of their repentance, that they would return to consideration when God executed vengeance upon those who were at their head. We see how ready the common people are to judge by impulse rather than deliberation, and to be hurried into most condemnable proceedings by blind prejudice, while afterwards upon being admonished they retrace their steps with equal precipitation. So that, granting cruelty must always be sinful, and simplicity no excuse, we are taught by David’s example to pray that sound counsel may be sent to such as are in error, with a view to enabling them to hear the truth and the right with patience.

ces on the sides of the rock were dismissed,
orlet go in safety; And they heard my words that they were pleasant.”

This exactly corresponds with the occurrences referred to. In correspondence with the first line, it, is said in 1 Samuel 24:2, that Saul and his chosen men went to seek David upon the rocks of the wild goats; and the terms in which David expostulated with Saul, were so gentle, dutiful and affecting, as for the time to melt into tenderness and contrition the heart of Saul, and to impress the minds of all who heard them.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Psalms 141:6". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/psalms-141.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Psalms 141:6 When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear my words; for they are sweet.

Ver. 6. When their judges are overthrown] As I like just reprehensions, so I suffer unjust persecutions from the grandees of the nation, who shall shortly be dejected from their dignity, and dashed, as it were, against the rocks. And then,

They shall hear my words] The common people that have been seduced by their evil rulers to think the worst of me, shall be brought to a right understanding of things, and undeceived; so that they shall set by those words of mine that they have been treated contemptuously and slighted.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 141:6". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/psalms-141.html. 1865-1868.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

If these words be the words of Christ, delivered by David in the spirit of prophecy (and as they are spoken of one person, they should seem to be so) perhaps the sense is, "when the great ones of the earth are brought down by affliction; the words of Jesus and his salvation shall then be considered dear, though now despised."


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Bibliography
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Psalms 141:6". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/psalms-141.html. 1828.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Their judges; the chief of mine enemies, their governors civil and military.

Are overthrown; or, shall be overthrown, or cast down headlong by thine exemplary vengeance. Or, as others, were left free, unhurt by me, when it was in my power to destroy them; of which see 1Sa 24$ 26$ to which histories this place is by divers learned interpreters thought to allude. And then by their judges he means Saul, although he thought not fit distinctly to mention him, but only to intimate him in an obscure and general way.

In stony places, Heb. in the hands or by the sides of the rock; which may relate either,

1. To the rocky nature of those places in which Saul fell into David’s hands. See 1 Samuel 24:2. Or,

2. To the ancient manner of punishing malefactors, which was by throwing them down from the tops of rocks; of which see 2 Chronicles 25:12. Or,

3. To aggravate their overthrow; for falls in stony places are, as most easy and frequent, so also most mischievous.

They shall hear my words, for they are sweet: then they; either the judges, who will be wise too late; or the people spared by my favour, when others were overthrown and warned by that fearful example; will hear my words, i.e. hearken to my counsels and offers, which now they despise, and then they, my words, will be sweet and acceptable to them, which now they reject. Others thus, then they did hear my words that they were sweet; then they acknowledged that my words and carriage towards Saul were full of meekness and gentleness, and that I was not so false and malicious as they had represented me to be.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 141:6". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/psalms-141.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

6. When their judges are overthrown in stony places—Literally, Their judges [princes] have been cast down by the sides of the rock. The verb is in Niphal (passive) perfect, and applies to David’s enemies, whom he beholds as already condemned and punished by being thrown from a cliff, a mode of punishment not unknown to the ancients, (2 Chronicles 25:12,) and probably the mode advised against David should he be arrested. French and Skinner translate:

“Their rulers shall be hurled over the sides of the rock,

And men shall hearken to my words, for they are sweet.”

But more probably shamat (rendered “overthrown”) should here be taken in the sense of release, dismiss, which it repeatedly bears, and read, “Their princes, or judges, were dismissed by the sides of the cliff, or rock,” referring to the hill or cliff of Hachilah, which David hastily descended on one side while Saul approached and encamped on the other. 1 Samuel 23:19-25; 1 Samuel 26:3. And this is the more probable, as it was from the sides of this rocky cliff that Saul finally abandoned all further pursuit of David, and returned home, while David departed the second time to Gath.

They shall hear my words; for they are sweet—Literally, And they heard my words, for they were pleasant. Both at Hachilah and Engedi David spared Saul’s life, and his mild and pacific addresses to Saul from a distant cliff awakened in that fickle king tears of gratitude and relenting. 1 Samuel 24, 26


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 141:6". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/psalms-141.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 141:6. When their judges are overthrown, &c. — “Of this verse, as it stands in our translation,” says Dr. Horne, “I know not what can be made. When literally rendered from the Hebrew, it runs thus; Their judges have been dismissed in the sides of the rock,” נשׁמשׂו בירי סלע, “and have heard my words that they were sweet. David, reflecting on Saul’s cruelty in driving him out of his country to wander among aliens and idolaters, very naturally calls to mind, and mentions his own different behaviour toward that implacable enemy, whose life he had spared two several times, when he had it in his power to destroy him as he pleased.” This is also Mr. Peters’s interpretation of the passage, who translates it as above, understanding, by שׁפשׂיהם, rendered their judges, their leaders, or generals, according to the frequent usage of the word in Scripture. The sense evidently is, “Their princes have been dismissed in safety when I had them at an advantage in those rocky deserts, and they only heard me expostulate with them in the gentlest words;” indeed, “in a manner so mild and humble that even Saul himself was overcome, and lift up his voice and wept, saying, My son David, thou art more righteous than I: the Lord reward thee good for what thou hast done unto me this day, 1 Samuel 24:16. Such has been my conduct toward the servants of Saul; yet how have my people, alas! been by them most miserably butchered!”


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 141:6". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/psalms-141.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Living. On the earth, (Berthier) or land of Judea, (St. Chrysostom) in this life, (Calmet) or in the next. In all, God is our only protector, and reward, Psalm xv. 5. (Berthier)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Psalms 141:6". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/psalms-141.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

When. Not in Hebrew text.

judges = rulers. Compare 2 Kings 9:33.

in stony places = as by a rock; or, over a rock. Hebrew by the hands of a rock.

They: i.e. the people.

words = sayings. Hebrew. "imrah. App-73.

sweet. Cognate with "dainties", Psalms 141:4.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Psalms 141:6". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/psalms-141.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear my words; for they are sweet.

When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear my words; for they are sweet - Hebrew, 'their judges (i:e., leaders and princes) are (doomed to be) overthrown in the hands of (i:e., given up to be thrown down from: or hands may mean, as in Judges 11:26; Psalms 140:5, the sides of: dashed down a ainst the side of) a rock: then they shall hear my words,' etc. So Jezebel was thrown down (2 Kings 9:33). "Sweet" is the same Hebrew word (nahemu) as was used for the "dainties" of the wicked: to imply that the true sweetness is with the godly, not with the wicked. Dashing dawn a precipice was a common punishment among the Jews (2 Chronicles 25:12; Luke 4:29; cf. Psalms 137:9). The lords of the godless world-power who rebel against the Divine Son of David shall ultimately be 'dashed in pieces like a potter's vessel' (Psalms 2:9); where also, in Psalms 141:10, the unbelieving "judges" are warned to listen to the 'sweet words' of the inspired Teacher ere it be too late. Psalms 138:4, in the same cycle of psalms, foretells the conversion of the world-kings as the effect of the final exaltation of the Son of David, and of the overthrow of the antichristian confederates. The 'sweet words' of the inspired Teacher's "month" are these whereby he invites them to submit to the Lord's Anointed and to "praise Him." These words they now despise; but taught by a severe lesson, they shall at last Anointed and to "praise Him." These words they now despise; but taught by a severe lesson, they shall at last prize them dearly.


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 141:6". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/psalms-141.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(6) This verse again is full of obscurities. The first clause probably should be rendered, Let their judges be broken to pieces by the force (literally, hands) of the rock; or, let their judges be cast down by the sides of the cliff—i.e., hurled down the precipitous face of the ravine (See 2 Chronicles 25:12, and notice that the word here is “Sela‘,” the name of the capital of Edom; comp. Hosea 10:14; Psalms 137:9, where, however, the expression is “against the cliff.”)

They shall . . .—Better, then shall they hear my words; how dainty they are, &c. The expression is ironical. The ungodly party, when their power is broken, instead of being entertained by the poet at a licentious banquet, will listen indeed to his words—shall hear a “dainty song” from him—viz., “a song of triumph.”


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Psalms 141:6". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/psalms-141.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear my words; for they are sweet.
When their judges
1 Samuel 31:1-8; 2 Samuel 1:17-27; 1 Chronicles 10:1-7
they shall hear
2 Samuel 2:4; 5:1-3; 1 Chronicles 11:1-3; 12:38
for they
45:2; 2 Samuel 2:5,6; 23:1; 1 Chronicles 13:2; Luke 4:22

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Psalms 141:6". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/psalms-141.html.

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