on Psalms 17 :4
The paths of the destroyer - Some render, hard or difficult paths, the sense of which is given above. But the passage is exceedingly obscure. My old Psalter translates and paraphrases as follows: -
Trans. That my mouthe speke noght the werkes of men, for the wordes of thi lippes I haf keped hard wayse.
Par - That es, that nothing passe of my mouthe bot at falles to the louyng of the; noght til werkes of men, that dos o gaynes thy wil; als to say, I spak noght bot gude; and for the wordes of thi lippes, that es, to ful fil the wordes that thi prophetes saide; I kepe hard waies of verteus and of tribulacioun, the qwilk men thynk hard; and for thi thai leve the hard way til heven, and takes the soft way til hel; but it es ful hard at the end.
on Psalms 17 :4
Concerning the works of men - In respect to the works or doings of men. The reference is here probably to the ordinary or common doings of mankind, or to what generally characterizes the conduct of men. As their conduct is so commonly, and so characteristically wicked, wickedness may be spoken of as their "work," and it is to this doubtless that the psalmist refers. In respect to the sinful courses or "paths" to which men are so prone, he says that he had kept himself from them. This is in accordance with what he says in the previous verse, that he had given no occasion by his conduct for the treatment which he had received at the hands of his enemies.
By the word of thy lips - Not by his own strength; not by any power which he himself had, but by the commands and promises of God - by what had proceeded from his mouth. The reference is doubtless to all that God had spoken: to the law which prescribed his duty, and to the promises which God had given to enable him to walk in the path of uprightness. He had relied on the word of God as inculcating duty; he had submitted to it as authority; he had found encouragement in it in endeavoring to do right.
I have kept me - I have preserved myself. I have so guarded my conduct that I have not fallen into the sins which are so common among men.
The paths of the destroyer - The paths which the "destroyer" treads; the course of life which such men lead. The idea is, not that he had been able to save himself from violence at their hands, but that he had been enabled to avoid their mode of life. The word rendered "destroyer" is from a verb which means "to break, to rend, to scatter," and would properly refer to acts of violence and lawlessness. He had kept himself from the modes of life of the violent and the lawless; that is, he had been enabled to lead a peaceful and quiet lift. He had given no occasion to his enemies to treat him as a violent, a lawless, a wicked man.
on Psalms 17 :4
17:4 Concerning - Observing the works of the men of this age, how wicked they are, I was resolved to take more care in ordering my own actions. By - By the help of thy blessed word. Paths - The customs and practices. Destroyer - Or, of the violent man: such as Saul, and his courtiers and soldiers.