Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
The psalmist prays for preservation from the wicked, Psa 64:1, Psa 64:2; whom he describes, Psa 64:3-6; shows their punishment, Psa 64:7, Psa 64:8; and the effect that this should have on the godly, Psa 64:9, Psa 64:10.
The title, To the chief Musician, or conqueror, A Psalm of David. The Syriac says, "composed by David when warned by Gad the prophet, who said, Stay not in Masrob, because Saul seeks thy life." Some think it was composed by David when he was persecuted by Saul; or during the rebellion of Absalom. But Calmet thinks it is a complaint of the captives in Babylon.
Hear my voice - The psalmist feared for his life, and the lives of his fellow-captives; and he sought help of God. He prayed, and he lifted up his voice; and thus showed his earnestness.
Hide me from the secret counsel - They plotted his destruction, and then formed insurrections in order to accomplish it.
Workers of iniquity - Those who made sin their labor, their daily employment; it was their occupation and trade. It is supposed that by this title the Babylonians are intended. See Psa 6:3; Psa 14:4; Psa 36:12; Psa 53:4; Psa 59:2.
Who whet their tongue like a sword - They devise the evil they shall speak, and meditate on the most provoking, injurious, and defamatory words; as the soldier whets his sword that he may thereby the better cut down his enemies.
Their arrows - bitter words - Their defamatory sayings are here represented as deadly as poisoned arrows; for to such is the allusion here made.
That they may shoot in secret - They lurk, that they may take their aim the more surely, and not miss their mark.
Suddenly - When there is no fear apprehended, because none is seen.
They commune of laying snares - They lay snares to entrap those whom they cannot slay by open attack or private ambush.
They search out iniquities; they accomplish a diligent search - The word חפש chaphash, which is used three times, as a noun and a verb, in this sentence, signifies to strip off the clothes. "They investigate iniquities; they perfectly investigate an investigation." Most energetically translated by the old Psalter: Thai ransaked wickednesses: thai failled ransakand in ransaking. To ransack signifies to search every corner, to examine things part by part, to turn over every leaf, to leave no hole or cranny unexplored. But the word investigate fully expresses the meaning of the term, as it comes either from in, taken privately, and vestire, to clothe, stripping the man bare, that he may be exposed to all shame, and be the more easily wounded; or from the word investigo, which may be derived from in, intensive, and vestigium, the footstep or track of man or beast. A metaphor from hunting the stag; as the slot, or mark of his foot, is diligently sought out, in order to find whither he is gone, and whether he is old or young, for huntsmen can determine the age by the slot. Tuberville, in his Treatise on Hunting, gives rules to form this judgment, To this the next verse seems to refer.
But God shall shoot at them with an arrow - They endeavor to trace me out, that they may shoot me; but God will shoot at them. This, if the Psalm refer to the times of David, seems to be prophetic of Saul's death. The archers pressed upon him, and sorely wounded him with their arrows. Sa1 31:3.
Their own tongue to fall upon them-selves - All the plottings, counsels, and curses, they have formed against me, shall come upon themselves.
And all men shall fear - They endeavored to hide their mischief; but God shall so punish them that all shall see it, and shall acknowledge in their chastisement the just judgment of God. The wicked, in consequence, shall fear, and,
The righteous shall be glad - They shall see that God does not abandon his followers to the malice of bad men. The rod of the wicked may come into the herttage of the just; but there it shall not rest. Calmet thinks that this is a prediction of the destruction of the Chaldeans, in consequence of which the Jewish people became highly respected by all the surrounding nations. But it may be applied more generally to the enmity of the wicked against the righteous, and how God counterworks their devices, and vindicates and supports his own followers.