Psalm 140

Psalm 140[a]

Prayer for Deliverance from the Snares of the Wicked

1 For the director.[b] A psalm of David.

2 [c]Deliver me, O Lord, from evildoers;
protect me from those who are violent,
3 who plan evil schemes in their hearts[d]
and stir up strife continually.
4 Their tongues[e] are as sharp as those of a serpent,
while the venom of vipers is on their lips. Selah
5 Guard me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked;
protect me from those who are violent,
who are determined to cause my downfall.
6 The arrogant[f] have set a hidden trap for me;
they have spread out cords as a net,
laying snares for me along the way. Selah
7 [g]I say to the Lord, “You are my God.
Listen, O Lord, to the voice of my supplications.”
8 O Lord, my God, my strong deliverer,
you shield my head on the day of battle.
9 Do not grant the desires of the wicked, O Lord;
do not permit their evil plots to succeed,
or they will become proud. Selah
10 [h]Those who surround me raise up their heads;
let them be overwhelmed by the malice they threaten.
11 May burning coals rain down on them;
may they be flung down into the miry depths,
never again to rise.[i]
12 Do not permit slanderers to find rest in the land;
may evil hunt the violent to their death.
13 [j]I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor
and upholds the cause of the needy.
14 Then the upright will give thanks to your name,
and the righteous will dwell in your presence.


  1. Psalm 140:1 More than once already we have heard the voice of a suffering, righteous person; he is the persecuted victim of the wicked, thieves, and calumniators. He calls down the vengeance of God on his enemies, while retaining his trust in the Lord. The state of the righteous and the harshness of the wicked are expressed in images often used. The opposition that biblical prayer places between poverty and violence, humility and arrogance, simplicity and falsehood is inescapable. To recite this psalm is to bear human misfortune, to become poor.
    We can pray this psalm in the name of the Church who is continuously assailed by treacherous adversaries, both material and spiritual. Knowing the futility of earthly help, the Church takes her heavenly Spouse, Christ, as her sole refuge. He provides spiritual armor that is efficacious against the attacks of the enemy (see Eph 6:13-17; 1 Thes 5:8).
  2. Psalm 140:1 For the director: these words are thought to be a musical or liturgical notation.
  3. Psalm 140:2 The psalmist prays for deliverance from evildoers who sow discord with their speech and devise evil schemes, leading to anarchy and continuous agitation. Instead of following God’s way, they have chosen the alternative way of the “father of lies” who was “a murderer from the beginning” (Jn 8:44).
  4. Psalm 140:3 Hearts: see note on Ps 4:8.
  5. Psalm 140:4 Tongues: see note on Ps 5:10.
  6. Psalm 140:6 The wicked seek to entrap the righteous as a fowler catches animals with a snare, net, or trap (see Pss 31:5; 119:110; 141:10; 142:4; Mt 22:15; Lk 11:54). Arrogant: see note on Ps 31:24.
  7. Psalm 140:7 The psalmist seeks protection from the Lord of the covenant, for he alone is God and the Master of the world.
  8. Psalm 140:10 The psalmist’s plea now becomes an imprecatory prayer, which is an expression for God’s just rule. Using metaphors for the divine judgment (burning coals and miry depths), he asks for redress (see notes on Pss 5:11; 35).
  9. Psalm 140:11 Allusion to Sodom (see Gen 19) and Dathan (see Num 16). See also Pss 11:6; 36:13; 55:24; 141:10.
  10. Psalm 140:13 The psalmist is confident that the Lord, the just Judge (see Pss 7:9f; 9:5), will vindicate the righteous poor (see notes on Pss 22:27; 34:7), who will then praise his name (see note on Ps 7:18) and live in his presence (see notes on Pss 23:5-6; 27:4).

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