“Deliver me from the oppression of man: so will I keep Thy precepts” (Psa. 119:134)
In the former verse the man of God had begged grace with respect to internal enemies—to the bosom enemy, the flesh—that no sin might have dominion over him. Now he begs for deliverance from external enemies. The saints are not only exercised with their corruptions, but also with the malice of wicked men. We have to do both with sin and sinners—with temptations and persecutions. And therefore he desires first to be kept from sin, and after that from danger and trouble. Both are a trouble to us; they were so to David; and God can and will in time give us deliverance from both.
In the text we have, first, a prayer for mercy: “Deliver me from the oppression of man.” In the Hebrew it is “from the oppression of Adam,” the name of the first father, for the posterity. This term is put either by way of distinction, aggravation, or diminution. 1. Man by way of distinction. There is the oppression and tyranny of Satan and sin—but the Psalmist does not mean that now. 2. Man by way of aggravation. No creatures are so ravenous and destructive to one another as man. It is a shame that one man should oppress another. Beasts do not usually devour those of the same kind, but usually a man’s enemies are those of his own household. The nearer we are in bonds of alliance, the greater the hatred. We are of the same stock, and reason should tell everyone of us that we should do as we would be done to. Nay, of the same religion. We are cemented together by the blood of Christ, which obliges us to more brotherly kindness; and if we differ in a few things, we have more cause of alliance and relations enough to love one another more than we do. But for all this there is the oppression of man.
3. Man by way of diminution. To lessen the fear of this evil, the term “Adam” is given men, to show their weakness in comparison with God. Thou are God, but they that are so ready and forward to oppress and injure us are but men; Thou can easily overrule their power and break the yoke. I think this consideration chief because of other passages: “Thou wilt judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress” (Psa. 10:18). The oppressors are but men of the earth, a piece of red clay—frail men, that must within a while be laid in the dust. But it is more emphatically expressed: “Who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man that shall be made as grass; and forgettest the LORD thy Maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth; and hast feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, as if were ready to destroy? And where is now the rage of the oppressor?” (Isa. 51:12, 13). When you have the immortal and almighty God to be your Protector, should you be afraid of a weak mortal man that is but Adam—a little enlivened dust? Within a little while he and all his fury is over and gone.