July 30, 2014

Tom Lowe


Psalm 31 (KJV)

Title: Life’s Ups and Downs

A psalm of David.

Psalm 31 (KJV)


1 In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness.

2 Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me.

3 For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name's sake lead me, and guide me.

4 Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me: for thou art my strength.

5 Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.

6 I have hated them that regard lying vanities: but I trust in the LORD.

7 I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities;

8 And hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy: thou hast set my feet in a large room.

9 Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly.

10 For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed.

11 I was a reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbours, and a fear to mine acquaintance: they that did see me without fled from me.

12 I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel.

13 For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side: while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life.

14 But I trusted in thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my God.

15 My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.

16 Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: save me for thy mercies' sake.

17 Let me not be ashamed, O LORD; for I have called upon thee: let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave.

18 Let the lying lips be put to silence; which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous.

19 Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!

20 Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.

21Blessed be the LORD: for he hath shewed me his marvellous kindness in a strong city.

22 For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes: nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee.

23 O love the LORD, all ye his saints: for the LORD preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer.

24 Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.



 The prayer of a believer in time of deep distress. In the first part, cries for help are mingled with expressions of confidence. Then the detail of griefs engrosses his attention, till, in the assurance of strong but submissive faith, he rises to the language of unmingled joyful trust and exhorts others to have similar love and confidence towards God.



1 In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust ; let me never be ashamed : deliver me in thy righteousness.


In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust

“In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust,” not in any creature, but in the Lord Jehovah. The Targum has “in thy Word, do I put my trust,” the essential Logos[i], or Word, which was in the beginning with God, and was God, and is an equal object of faith, trust, and confidence, as Jehovah the Father: this act includes trusting everything with God, body and soul, and their welfare, in time, and to eternity; and trusting in him for all things, including providence and grace, and glory, and is a continuous act; for the psalmist does not say, “I have trusted,” or “I will trust,” but “I do trust;” and this was a very considerable thing to do in this time of his distress: the Lord is to be trusted in at all times.


“In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust”—this is the basis for the petitions which follow; or the reason why the psalmist makes these appeals to God. It was his firm confidence in Him; in His character; in His promises; in His ability to deliver Him in the time of danger. This verse sounds very much like Psalm 7:1: “O LORD my God, in you do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me.”All my hope and confidence are in your kindness, and faithfulness to fulfil the promises you made to me.


“In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust.” Nowhere else do I flee for shelter, let the tempest howl. The Psalmist has one refuge, one place to go, and that the best one. He casts out the great anchor of his faith in the time of storm. Let other things be doubtful, but not the fact that he relies upon Jehovah. This affirmation of faith is the fulcrum by means of which he labors to uplift and remove his trouble; he dwells upon it as a comfort to himself and a plea made to God. No mention is made of merit, but faith relies upon divine favor and faithfulness, and upon that alone. “O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in you” (Psalm 25:20). In spite of the extreme danger he is in, his belief in the coming overthrow of his enemiesis firm, as is his own deliverance and restoration. 


Let me never be ashamed

“Let me never be ashamed,” neither in this world, nor in that to come. The believer has no reason to be ashamed of anything in this life except his own sin, and the imperfection of his own righteousness, and his trust in it; not of the Lord, in whom he trusts; nor His Word, or Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom he believes is his Saviour and Redeemer; nor of the Spirit, and His work of grace upon him; nor of his faith, hope, trust, and confidence in them; nor of the Gospel, the means of faith, and of the support of it; nor of, the rebukes, afflictions, and sufferings, he endures for the sake of Christ and His Gospel. And “let me never be ashamed” of His ordinances and His people; nor will he ever be ashamed of the coming of Christ, when he will appear in His righteousness, be clothed with white robes, have palm branches in his hands, and shall stand at His right hand, and be received into glory.


Let Thy dealings with me show that my confidence was well founded. The word is not used here in the sense of being unwilling to confess his faith in God, or his love for Him, as it is often now (compare Romans 1:16Romans 5:52 Timothy 1:12), but in the sense of being so "disappointed" that he would be ashamed that he had relied on One who was unworthy of confidence. The psalmist prays that God would intervene in his behalf in answer to his prayers, and that He would show that He was worthy of the confidence which he had placed in him, or that He was a God who might be trusted in the time of trial; in other words, that he might not be subjected to the reproach of the wicked for placing in his troubles in the hands of such a God.


“Let me never be ashamed.” How can the Lord permit the man to be ultimately put to shame who depends upon himalone? This would not be dealing like a God of truth and grace. It would bring dishonor upon God Himself if faith was not rewarded in the end. It will be a bad day indeed for religion when trust in God brings no consolation and no assistance. Compare:

  • Psalm 31:17: “Let me not be ashamed, O LORD; for I have called on you: let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave.”
  • Psalm 25:2: “O my God, I trust in you: let me not be ashamed, let not my enemies triumph over me.”
  • Psalm 25:20: “O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in you.”
  • Psalm 22:5: “They cried to you, and were delivered: they trusted in you, and were not confounded.”


Deliver me in thy righteousness

“Deliver me in thy righteousness”—not in his own, which he knew was unacceptable to God; but by the righteousness of God, which the Son of God has accomplished, and God the Father accepts of and imputes. Faith dares to look even to the sword of justice for protection—as long as God is righteous, faith will not be futile. How sweetly does the declaration of faith sound in this first verse, if we read it at the foot of the cross, beholding the promise of the Father as yea and amen through the Son; viewing God with faith's eye as he stands revealed in Jesus crucified. For God to desert His people (v. 16) would be inconsistent with His righteousness.


Verses 1–8 is a prayer of faith, and verses 1-3 are repeated in that beautiful montage, Psalms 71; and verse 1 forms the close of the Te Deum[ii]. David’s prayer is “Deliver me in thy righteousness, seeing that my cause is a righteous one.


2 Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me.


Bow down thine ear to me

“Bow down thine ear to me,” as a person does when he inclines his ear toward the one he wants to hear. “I have called on you, for you will hear me, O God: incline your ear to me, and hear my speech” (v. 6). For God to stoop, and incline His ear in order to better hear us is a wonderful condescending grace! The same phrase appears in Psalm 71:2: “Deliver me in your righteousness, and cause me to escape: incline your ear to me, and save me.”


 In this verse, David seeks help from God's righteous rule—“Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before my face” (Ps 5:8)—and begs for an attentive hearing, and speedy and effective aid. With no other help and no claim of merit, he relies solely on God's concern for His own flawlessness and for safe guidance and release from the snares of his enemies.


Deliver me speedily

“Deliver me speedily” shows that he was in great danger, and that his deliverance must come quickly: sometimes the Lord does help early, and is a present help in time of need, and delivers at once, as soon as the blessing is asked for. Compare:

  • Psalm 38:22: “Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation.”This is an earnest prayer that God would come immediately to his rescue.
  • Psalm 40:17: “But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinks on me: you are my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.”Do not linger or delay in coining to my assistance.
  • Psalm 70:1: “Make haste, o God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, O lord.”
  • Psalm 71:12: “O God, be not far from me: O my God, make haste for my help.” He knew that his help must come from God, and that there was none for him elsewhere; and that he could obtain help from Him when no one else could help him, and He was a present help in time of trouble, even though his case desperate.


The psalmist does not doubt that the Lord will deliver him, because He has done so many times in the past.

Be thou my strong rock

“Be thou my strong rock” for providing shelter and security from my enemies, as well as to build his everlasting salvation on, and to stand firmly upon, and out of danger. A literal reading of the verse would be, “Thou art to me for a rock of a stronghold, for a house of fortresses to save me.” Concerning the term "rock," compare Psalms 17:2; 18:2, 50; 20:6; 23:3; 25:21.


The parallelism between this clause and the first clause of verse 3 is even stronger in the original than in our Version, for while the two words which designate the “Rock” are not identical, their meaning is identical, and the difference between them is insignificant; one being a rock of any shape or size, the other being a perpendicular cliff or elevated overhang.


For an house of defense to save me

God is likened to a house to dwell in, since the Lord is the dwelling place of his people in all generations, and a sturdy building to which they may continually take refuge, and where they might find protection and safety; their place of defense is in Him who is the munition[iii] of rocks, a strong hold, and a strong tower that protects him from the enemy. 


The word rendered “defense” is the same as that which is translated “fortress” in the next clause. So, if we were to combine the two clauses it would read thus: “Be Thou a strong Rock to me, for a house, a fortress, for Thou art my Rock and my Fortress.” This gives the whole force of the parallelism.


“For an house of defense to save me” refers to a fortified house; a house made safe and strong. It is equivalent to praying that he might have a secure abode or dwelling-place in which to live. The psalmist goes on to give the ground of his prayer—thou art my cliff and my fortress, that is, prove Thyself to be what I know Thou art. It is the logic of every believing prayer. 


3 For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name's sake lead me, and guide me.


For thou art my rock and my fortress

 He prayed for what he knew God to be, and what He had been in the past, and he could appeal to His concern for him; and therefore he implores the Lord to be to him what he was in Himself, and what He had been to him. David’s prayer was simply that the Lord would act as He always had. David prays for God to be his Rock and Fortress in the future, because he has always looked to Him as his Rock and Fortress in the past. Faith establishes a claim to have its anticipations made good. The word rendered Rock in this clause is better rendered Cliff or Fortress.


Therefore for thy name's sake lead me, and guide me

“Lead me, and guide me;” two words expressing the same thing in order to give the idea more emphasis. Direct me clearly and continually in a right and safe path; for without Your shepherding I cannot determine the right way, or continue in it—therefore, “for thy Name's sake lead me, and guide me.” The metaphor is dropped, and God is simply asked for guidance and direction. In the struggle between Absalom and David more depended upon wise counsel than upon mere force (see 2 Samuel 15:31-37; 2 Samuel 16:15-23; 2 Samuel 17:5-23).


The type of guidance pictured here is either the kind of guidance a shepherd provides for his flock—gently, with no more force than they are able to bear; guidance into the green pastures of the Word and ordinances, and beside the still waters of divine love, and to the overflowing fountain, and fullness of grace in Himself. The other kind is the guidance provided by a general who leads and guides his army; Christ being a Leader and Commander of His people, and the great Captain of their salvation, and when He is the head of them, they fear no enemy. The psalmist desires that the Lord would lead him in the way of truth and down paths of righteousness, according to His Word. This is guidance by His counsel, and by His Spirit, so that he might walk in the way in which he should go; and this he prays He would do “for his name's sake;” not for any merit or worthiness in him; but for the glory of His own name, and for the honour of His free grace and mercy, for which the Lord often does many things; He defers His anger, He purges away the sins of His people, He forgives their transgressions, and remembers their sins no more, for His name's sake


To pray for protection and then strongly affirm his belief that God would give it, has been called illogical; but it is the logic of the heart if not of the intellect; the logic, it may be added, of every prayer of faith.



4 Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me: for thou art my strength.


Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me

This could refer to the time when the Ziphites intended to betray him, and Saul, and his men surrounded him with the intention of capturing him. This was the danger that he was in and from which he saw only God could deliver him. It is God who breaks the nets of men, and the snares of the devil, which they secretly lay for the people of God, so that they may stumble, and fall, and be seized. It is God who delivers them out of the enemies’ traps.


The image of a net is a common one in the Psalms—“He lies in wait secretly like a lion in its den: he lies in wait to catch the poor: he does catch the poor, when he draws them into his net” (Psalm 10:9). He compares his insidious enemies to hunters or fowlers. Compare:

  • Psalm 9:15: “The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken.” They are trapped in the net which they hid—which they laid for others. The allusion here is to a spring-net made to capture birds or wild beasts.
  • Psalm 25:15: “My eyes are ever toward the LORD; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net.”The "net" here is that which had been laid for him by the wicked. He trusted in God alone to deliver him from it.


The phrase "laid privily" refers to the custom of "hiding" or "concealing" a net or gin[iv], so that the wild beast that was to be taken could not see it, or would fall into it unawares. Accordingly, his enemies planned to overcome him, by springing a trap for him at a moment when he was not aware of it, and at a place where he did not expect it.


Absalom set a trap for David when he asked permission to go to Hebron for the purpose of paying a vow, but his real purpose was to get possession of a strongly fortified city (2 Samuel 15:7-9). It was, perhaps, by a scheme of Ahithophel's that David was convinced to leave Jerusalem and go into exile.


For thou art my strength.

“For thou art my strength”(compare Psalm 18:1; 19:15; 28:1, 7, 8)—my stronghold; my hope of security is in You, and You alone.Preserve me from the crafty counsels and subtle practices of my enemies. God was the author, giver, and maintainer, both of his natural and spiritual strength; and He was able, and was the only One able, to pull him out of the net, and extricate him out of the difficulties which he was in.



5 Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.


Into thine hand I commit my spirit

“I commit my spirit” means either:

  1. his life, which he has committed to a faithful Creator and Preserver, who was the God of his life, who gave him life, and sustained his soul in it; or
  2. his soul, and the eternal salvation of it, which he committed into the hand of the Lord his Redeemer, where he knew it would be safe, and out of whose hands no one can pluck it; or
  3. This he might say, if he was worried about the prospect of immediate death, because of the danger he was in; and therefore commits his spirit into the hands of God, to whom he knew it belonged, and to whom it returns at death, and does not die with the body, but exists in a separate state, and would be immediately with Him.


Our Lord Jesus Christ used the same words when he was expiring on the cross: “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into your hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost” (Luke 23:46). These are among the most memorable words in the Bible; the dying words of our Lord, and many Christians who have passed away were comforted by them.But death was not on his mind here, rather, it was in life, amid its troubles and dangers, that he trusted his spirit to God. But this does not prove that the psalm was originally a reference to Christ, or that he meant to suggest that the words were originally a prophecy. The language was as appropriate for him, as it is for all others in the hour of death; and Christ’s use of the words furnished the highest illustration of their being appropriate in that hour. The act of the psalmist was an act of strong confidence in God in the midst of dangers and troubles; the act of the Saviour was of the same nature, commending His spirit to God in the solemn hour of death. The same act of faith is proper for all the people of God alike, in trouble and in death. The word "spirit" may mean either “myself” or “life,” which has the spirit as its animating principle; or it may mean more specifically the "soul," as distinguished from the body. The sense is not materially different by either interpretation. David was not thinking of a final committal of his soul, as distinct from his body, into the hands of the Creator, but only intended solemnly to commit himself, both soul and body, into the Divine keeping, to be preserved from the attacks of his enemies. 


Isn’t it wonderful that, at the hour of His death, He condescended to take a singer’s words as His words? What an honor to that old saint that Jesus Christ, when dying, should find nothing that more fully corresponded to His inmost feelings at that moment than the utterance of the Psalmist long ago! How His mind must have been saturated with the Old Testament and with these songs of Israel! And do you not think it would be better for us if our minds were completely steeped in those ancient utterances of devotion?


Peter tells us that it is futile for us to talk about committing the keeping of our soul to God unless we back up the committing with consistent, Christ-like lives. Of course it is vain. How can a man expect God to take care of him when he immerses himself into something that is contrary to God’s laws? Do we think that by committing our souls into God’s hands we are absolved from taking care of them ourselves? There is a very false kind of religious faith, which seems to think that it shuffles off all responsibility upon God. Not at all; you lighten the responsibility, but you do not get rid of it. And no man has a right to say “He will keep me, and so I no longer need to take custody of myself.” He keeps us, for the most part, by helping us to keep our hearts devoted to Him, and our feet on the pathway of truth.


Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth

The words, “Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord, thou God of truth,” give two reasons for his confidence; his own past experiences, and the known character of Jehovah as the God of faithfulness. Redeemed primarily means delivered from earthly distress—“But David said to Recab and Baanah, “The LORD, who saves me from all my enemies, is my witness” (2 Samuel 4:9). For Christians it is enough to know that we can use language like this in the midst of troubles and danger, and in the hour of death we are authorized to do so, since we have been redeemed by the blood of the Saviour. None of us have any other safe ground that we can trust and have confidence in at the hour of death than the fact that Christ died for our sin. What David may have meant by this word “redeemed” may not be easy to determine with certainty; but there are two possibilities, which we will delve into:

  1. Redeemed from troubles and danger.
  • He had been rescued from danger in the past, which encouraged him to commit his life into the hands of God.
  • We can say, “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” You have experiences, I have no doubt, in your past, on which you may build confidence for the future. Let each of us consult our own hearts, and our own memories. Can’t we say, “Thou hast been my Help,” and therefore, we ought to be sure that He will not “leave us nor forsake us” until He manifests Himself as the God of our salvation?
  • You have delivered me from great dangers in the past, and therefore I willingly and cheerfully commit myself to You for the future: You have showed Yourself to always make good Your promises.


  1. Redeemed from the guilt and punishment for sin.
  • There is no reason to doubt that he may have used the phrase to express the idea that he had been restored from the ruin of the fall, and from the dominion of sin, and had been made a child of God. Nor do we doubt that he had such views of the way of salvation that he would feel that he was redeemed from his sins by an atonement, or by the shedding of blood.
  • He is referring to spiritual and eternal redemption from sin by the blood of Christ, which the psalmist speaks of as if it was in the past, though it was yet to come. He was as certain of it; as Isaiah who speaks of the incarnation and sufferings of Christ—“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6);--because the Lord, who had provided, appointed, and promised the Redeemer, was the God of truth, and was faithful to every word of promise; and Christ, who had been appointed to be the Redeemer, was faithful to Him that appointed Him; and since He was the Lord's, he committed himself into his hands.
  • The Psalmist, reasoning from God’s past mercy and eternal faithfulness, is saying substantially what the Apostle said in the triumphant words, “Whom He did foreknow, them He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son . . . and whom He did predestinate them He also . . . justified, and whom He justified them He also glorified.’ ‘Thou hast redeemed me.” “Thou art the God of Truth; Thou wilt not lift Thy hand away from Thy work until Thou hast made me all that Thou didst bind Thyself to make me in that initial act of redeeming me.”
  • God is a faithful Creator—He made us to need what we do need, and He is not going to forget the wants that He Himself has incorporated with our human nature. He is obliged to help us because He made us. He is the God of Truth, and He will help us.
  • “Thou hast redeemed me” was the reason why the "psalmist" committed himself to God; this reason was not advocated, and could not have been given by the Savior, in his dying moments. He committed His departing spirit to God as His Father, and in virtue of the work which He had been appointed to do, and which he was now about to finish, as a Redeemer; we commit our souls to Him in virtue of having been redeemed. This is appropriate for us to do:

o   Because he has redeemed us.

o   Because we have been redeemed for him, and we may ask Him to take His own.

o   Because this is a basis for our safety, for if we have been redeemed, we may be certain that God will keep us.

o   Because this is the only basis for our security in regard to the future world.


“The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God.” Compare:

  • John 10:28: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” 
  • 2 Timothy 1:12: “That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.”
  • 1 Peter 4:19: “So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”


“Lord God of truth”—the Lord has been true to His promises and to His covenant. Because You have promised life and salvation to those who are redeemed, they may safely confide in You. “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God.”



6 I have hated them that regard lying vanities: but I trust in the LORD.


I have hated them that regard lying vanities

Those “that regard lying vanities” does not refer to the persons, but to their ways. “That regard” means that observe; that is, are attached to, depend upon, expect help from, pay respect to, and worship (see Psalm 59:9; Hosea 4:10). “Lying vanities” are vanities of emptiness, or, most vain vanities, which are foolish, deceitful, and fruitless. They love them, embrace them, and put their confidence in them; and David says here that they are to be “hated,” not them, but their principles and practices, and they themselves are to be shunned. “Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate you? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against you? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them my enemies” (Psalm 139:21, 22).


Lying vanities are all of the following:

  1. Soothsaying and divination. This was practiced by kings, and generals of armies, to know when it was the best time to go to war, and whether they would be successful or not—“For the king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination: he made his arrows bright, he consulted with images, he looked in the liver” (Ezekiel 21:21);--but David abhorred such men and their practices; he did not use such methods when in distress, but instead, he asked the Lord, and trusted in Him. This type of lying vanity included idol gods, who are nothing in the world—“They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy” (Jonah 2:8); and all sorts of divinations, whether by the stars, or by the entrails of living creatures, or by the dead. Such practices were common and prevalent among the eastern people, and through their example, many of the Israelites adopted the practice. David pitied the Gentiles that observed these vanities; but the Israelites that did so were apostates from God, and professed enemies of His and His laws, and therefore were the proper objects of hatred.
  2. Idols. Idols were often called vanities (see Deuteronomy 32:21Jeremiah 2:5 8:19). He renounces all sympathy and fellowship with the worshippers of false gods. False gods are vanities of nothingness, having no real existence, and deceiving their worshippers; the exact opposite of the God of truth, who constantly proves His faithfulness (Deuteronomy 32:4; Deuteronomy 32:21). Vanity is a common expression for false gods in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 8:19).
  3. All will worship[v] and superstition, may be included in this category, which is not according to the will and Word of God; it is worshipping in vain, and deviates from true spiritual worship; and so, it is a lying vanity, and should be detested, as well as those who practice it.
  4. All errors and heresies; these are great swelling words of vanity, and are lies and hypocrisy.
  5. All immorality and wickedness, which spring from the vanity of the mind, and promise much liberty and pleasure, but deceive, and therefore are lying.
  6. All worldly enjoyments are vanity and aggravate the spirit, and are untrue and deceitful when trusted in.
  7. Every false trust and confidence; such as trust in riches, in wisdom and knowledge, in carnal decline, and privileges, in a moral and legal righteousness, and even in a bare profession of true religion, and a subjection to Gospel ordinances; for there is no true object of trust, no Redeemer and Saviour, but the Lord.
  8. All human or carnal helps, any arm of flesh; for he that trusts in them is pronounced cursed (Jeremiah 17:5), and therefore is hated.

but I trust in the Lord

David trusts in the God of truth, Who cannot lie, deny Himself, or deceive; who is unchangeable, and without any variableness, or shadow of turning. The Psalmist rests on God's faithfulness to His promises to His people, and hence avows himself one of them, detesting all who revere objects of idolatry (compare De 32:21;1Co 8:4). This is the attitude that should be in all God's children—to hate whatever is not grounded on a sure trust in God, as deceitful and vain. “But I trust in the Lord,” Who is the direct opposite of all "lying vanities;" Almighty, and the "God of truth" (v. 5). 



7 I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities;


I will be glad, and rejoice in thy mercy

“I will be glad, and rejoice in thy mercy;” there are two reasons for rejoicing:

  1. Because of the “nature” of thy mercy, which is large and abundant, free and sovereign, from everlasting to everlasting, and is communicated in and through Christ, and is a good ground of hope and trust.
  2. Because of the “effects” of thy mercy, or what it has produced; for it has yielded the covenant of grace, and all the sure mercies of it; the mission of Christ, and redemption by Him; regeneration, and the forgiveness of sins, and even eternal life and glory; besides a multitude of blessings, deliverances, and salvations in Providence.


On account of all which His mercy has given us, there is great reason for joy and gladness.


“I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy” means, I will triumph and rejoice in thy mercy; that is, in the mercy which he had already experienced, and in that which he still hoped to enjoy. He had had abundant proofs of that mercy; he hoped for still further proofs of it; and he says that he would find his joy in that, and not in what idols could give.  Anticipating the "mercy" which he has craved (vs. 2-4), the psalmist determines to "be glad and rejoice in it." In our most demanding trials, we must find breathing room in which to bless the Lord: praise is never a hindrance to prayer, but rather a lively shot in the arm to encourage our persistence in it. Those two words, glad and rejoice, are an instructive repetition, in order to show his joy at receiving God’s mercy.


For thou hast considered my trouble

“For thou hast considered my trouble”—in times past and now. He was sure that his prayer would be considered, and that God would relieve and deliver him. Lord, You have seen the trouble I am in, weighed it, directed it, put boundaries to it, and in every way make it a matter of Your tender consideration. A man's consideration means the full exercise of his mind; what must God's consideration be?


When God looks upon trouble and considers it, he is sure to be compassionate to the sufferer, and to grant him some relief. David’s trouble was both inward and outward, arising from indwelling sin, doubts and fears, desertions and darkness, and Satan's temptations; and outward, from the world, and the men of it, and by reason of bodily afflictions. The Lord looks upon the troubles of His people, and upon their effect on them, with an eye of pity and compassion; He sympathizes with them; he considers the nature of their trouble, their weakness, their ability to bear it, and the best way in which to deliver them, and the best time to do it; he works out all things according to the counsel of his own will: “And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows” (Exodus 3:7).


Thou hast known my soul in adversities

 "Thou hast known my soul in adversities," that is,had regard for me when I was in trouble, loved me, and cared for me; for words of knowledge commonly imply affection. “For the LORD knows the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish” (Psalm 1:6). God is said to "know" those on whom he looks with approval. “Thou hast known my soul” in the troubles that have come upon me. That is, God had seen and known all the feelings of his heart in the time of adversity; his sorrow and anxiety; his hope and trust; his uncomplaining spirit; his feeling of entire dependence on God, and his belief that He would intervene to save him. God had not turned away from him, but had shown that He regarded with interest all his feelings, his desires, his hopes. It is wonderful, in the time of trouble, to know that all our feelings are understood by God, that He sees all our sorrows, and that He will not leave us regardless of them. There are no states of mind more interesting than those which occur in adversities; there is no one who can fully understand the soul in adversities but God; there is no one but God who can entirely meet the needs of the soul at such times.


God owns his saints when others are ashamed to acknowledge them; He never refuses to know his friends. He does not think any less of them for their rags and tatters. He does not misjudge them and cast them off when their faces are lean with sickness, or their hearts heavy from depression. Moreover, the Lord Jesus knows us in our pains in a peculiar sense, by having a deep sympathy towards us in them all; when no one else can share our grief, because they have not experienced anything like it. But Jesus dives into the lowest depths with us, understanding the grimmest of our troubles, because He has felt the same. Jesus is a physician who knows every case; nothing is new to him. When we are so bewildered that we don’t know our own condition, He knows us very well. He has known us and will know us: O for grace to know more of him! "Man, know thyself," is a good philosophic precept, but "Man, thou art known of God," is an unmatched comfort.



8 And hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy : thou hast set my feet in a large room.


And hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy

“And hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy,” that is, has not delivered (or abandoned) me into his hand (1 Sam. 23:11), or into his power. David said something similar to this to the giant Goliath: “This day will the LORD deliver you into my hand; and I will smite you, and take your head from you; and I will give the carcasses of the host of the Philistines this day to the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel” (1 Samuel 17:46). (Also see 1 Samuel 24:18; 1 Samuel 26:8).  “Shut me up into the hand” is the exact phrase used by David (1Samuel 23:11-12) when consulting the Divine oracle by the ephod. But this does not prove the authorship, for it was evidently a common phrase. (See 1 Samuel 24:181 Samuel 26:82 Kings 17:4.)


David may have been thinking of the time when he was in Keilah, in the wilderness of Ziph, and Maon, and surrounded by Saul and his army: “And it was told Saul that David was come to Keilah. And Saul said, God has delivered him into my hand; for he is shut in, by entering into a town that has gates and bars” (1 Samuel 23:7). The psalmist was in great and imminent danger, if the Lord had not delivered him. Neither does the Lord permit his people to be shut up under the power of sin and Satan, so that they cannot experience God’s grace, and discharge their duty: but he brings their souls out of prison, so that they may praise his name.


Thou hast set my feet in a large room

David was liberated from his enemies; Saul and his army being called off from pursuing him, by reports of an invasion by the Philistines (1 Samuel 23:27); and this is the case of the saints when they are brought to Christ, to walk by faith in full freedom; when grace is turned into practice, and spiritual knowledge is increased, and they are delivered from their enemies; or, when they can look upon them as if they are already conquered, and are sure of victory over them, and at last are entirely delivered from them—“Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: you have enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy on me, and hear my prayer” (Psalm 4:1). (Also see Psalm 18:19; Psalm 18:36)


 “Thou hast set my feet in a large room”—in a large place, in a large space, meaning You have made me free, or set me at liberty, put me in a place of safety, made a way for me to escape, when I was surrounded by them. Literally, You have made my feet to stand in a large (or, wide) place; enabled me to move and act with freedom; given me plenty of space and freedom to act; not confined me, or cramped me, or hindered me in any way.


Having cheered himself by cataloging these grounds for encouragement (vs. 5-8), the psalmist again returns to prayer (v. 9).



9 Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble : mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly.


Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am in trouble

A sudden change of subject matter occurs at verse 9, as the psalmist follows up his prayer for mercy with a clarification of his need for mercy. He is in trouble, in dire trouble; hard pressed, and distressed both in mind and body. Isn’t that the way it is with the people of God; as soon as they are out of one trouble, they are in another; these troubles are created for them alone, and lie in their pathway to heaven, and are necessary; but when we are experiencing them we have the right to take them to the Lord, who is a merciful God. It is best for them to cast themselves upon His mercy, since they have no merit of their own to plead with him; and they may freely tell him all their troubles, as the psalmist does here, and hope for grace and mercy to help them in time of need. The nature and sources of his trouble are specified in the following verses. He seems to have considered all his trouble to be the result of sin, either the sin of his heart, of which he alone was conscious, or of some open act of sin that had brought this trouble upon him (v. 10). As a consequence of this, he says that he was subjected to criticism and finger-pointing by his enemies, and shunned by his neighbors and his acquaintances. He was forgotten by them like a dead man who is out of sight and out of mind; he was slandered by some of them, while others conspired against his life (vs. 11-13). In view of all this he calls earnestly upon God to save him from his troubles, and to be his helper and friend.


Now, this man of God provides a minute description of his unhappy situation. He unburdens his heart, lays bare his wounds, and expresses his inward desolation. This first clause briefly expresses all that follows, it is the text for his melancholy speech. Misery provokes mercy—no more reasoning is needed. "Have mercy" is the prayer; the argument is as powerful as it is plain and personal, "I am in trouble."


Mine eye, is consumed with grief

Psalm 6:7, is almost identical—“My eye is consumed because of grief . . .”  David’s grief is that produced by provocation or spiteful treatment. It causes him to weep so much that his eyes are nearly "consumed" or "eaten away." Blurred and sunken eyes are obvious indicators of failing health. Tears seem to draw their salt from our strength, and floods of them are very apt to consume the source from which they spring. God wants us tell Him the symptoms of our disease, not for his information, but to show we are aware of our need. It was an old idea that the eye could weep itself away. It is an actual fact that the disease glaucoma is very much influenced by emotions. The psalmist may have wept continually because of his trouble, and that was very harmful to his sight.


Yea, my soul and my belly

Perhaps he could not eat his food, or digest it, which caused him internal disorders, and even brought his soul or life into danger. “My soul and my belly” means that both mind and body were suffering. My sorrows are not bogus, or slight, but inward and penetrating: my mind is oppressed, my heart is ready to sink under my burden.


“Yea, my soul”—that is, my spirit, my life, my mind. My powers are weakened and exhausted by excessive grief.

“And my belly”—that is,my bowels (contained in my belly), which is considered the seat of the affections, and source of support and nourishment for the whole body. But others regard the "belly" as denoting "the very center of physical life and of the emotions"—“Behold, my belly is as wine which has no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles” (Job 32:19). The idea is my thoughts and affections work within me, like fermenting wine in a bottle, and must have expression.


Soul and body are so intimately united, that one cannot deteriorate without the other feeling it. We, in these days, are not strangers to the double declining which David describes; we have been faint with physical suffering, and distracted with mental distress. Thus the whole man, both soul and body, inside and outside, are consumed. The effect of his grief was to exhaust his strength, and to make his heart sink within him.Compare:

  • Isaiah 16:11: “Why my bowels shall sound like an harp for Moab, and my inward parts for Kirharesh.” In excessive griefs the bowels are sometimes rolled and tumbled together, so as to make an audible noise.
  • Psalm 22:14: “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the middle of my bowels.” The meaning here is that his heart was no longer firm and strong, due to total exhaustion and the weakness brought on by hopelessness.



10 For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed.


For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing

“For my life is spent with grief.” The word renderedhere as "spent" does not mean merely "passed," as it is commonly usednow, when we say we "spent" our time at such a place, or in such a manner, but in the more proper meaning of the word, denoting "consumed, wasted away," or "destroyed." (Compare Jeremiah 16:4; Lamentations 2:11; Psalm 84:2; Psalm 143:7; Psalm 69:3 Hebrews 3-4; Job 11:20.) The term grief is used here to express deep sorrow. (Compare: Psalm 13:2; Jeremiah 8:18.)


“And my years with sighing”—that is, my years are wasted or consumed with sighing (groaning). Instead of being devoted to active and useful work, they are wasted away with a grief which entirely occupies his time and preys upon his vitality—“I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears” (Psalm 6:6).


This clause shows the continuation of his troubles, and that his whole life had been, as it were, an uninterrupted series of sorrows; “For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing.” The psalmist's grief is long standing. It dates from the time of his great sin (2 Samuel 11:4-17), which is thought to have preceded the revolt of Absalom by the space of twelve years. This sin necessitated a lifelong repentance (Compare: Psalm 38:17; Psalm 51:3).


My strength faileth because of mine iniquity

My strength flounders because of my Iniquity. Iniquity, as used here, refers to the suffering that results from sin rather than the sin itself, a meaning that certainly seems to suit the context better—“For innumerable evils have compassed me about: my iniquities have taken hold on me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of my head: therefore my heart fails me” (Ps 40:12). Because of my iniquity; either through my deep and well-grounded sense of my sins, which have provoked God to afflict me in this manner; or for the punishment of my iniquity, as this word is frequently used. Other causes had, no doubt, contributed to produce the profound depression of the psalmist at this period, but none had the potency of this (Compare: Psalm 38:3-10; Psalm 51:1-14). It caused his strength to fail him, and led to complete breakdown of both mind and body.


David regarded all this trouble, from whatever quarter it came, whether directly from the hand of God, or from man, as the fruit of "sin." Whether he refers to any particular sin as the cause of this trouble, or to the sin of his nature as the source of all evil, it is impossible now to determine. Since, however, no particular sin is specified, it seems most probable that the reference is to the sin of his heart— to his corrupt nature. It is common, and it is not improper, when we are afflicted, to regard all our trials as fruits of sin; as coming upon us as the result of the fall, and as an evidence that we are depraved. It is certain that there is no suffering in heaven, and that there never would be any in a perfectly holy world. It is equally certain that all the woes of earth are the consequence of man's apostasy[vi]; and it is proper, therefore, when we are afflicted, even though we cannot trace the affliction to any "particular" offence, to trace it all to the existence of evil, and to regard it as among the proofs of the divine displeasure against sin.


The psalmist’s sin may be the sin of his nature, in which he was conceived and born; indwelling sin, which remained and worked in him; and it may also be the sin of unbelief, which plagued him, and prevailed in him, in spite of the instances of divine goodness, the declarations of grace, the discoveries of love, and the exceeding great and precious promises He had made to him. It also may refer to his daily sins and infirmities, and very likely some great backslidings, which had caused his soul to grieve, and which grief affected several parts of his body. Sin was the cause of the failure of natural strength in Adam and his posterity; of diseases and death, by which their strength is weakened; and was the cause of diminishing moral strength in men to do that which is good, and has a very great influence on the spiritual strength of the Lord's people.


And my bones are consumed

“And my bones” which are the firmest and strongest parts of the human body, and support all of it, “are consumed,” that is, racked with pain, as though they were being gnawed away, and all my strength is gone. (Compare: Psalm 32:3; Psalm 102:3.)There was then some sin which called for chastisement, or required the discipline of suffering.



11 I was a reproach among all mine enemies , but especially among my neighbours, and a fear to mine acquaintance : they that did see me without fled from me.


I was a reproach among all mine enemies

“I was a reproach among all mine enemies;” rather, I am become a reproach. The psalmist complains of the loss of his “good” reputation. Absalom's rebellion was preceded by a long progression of slanderous and defamatory accusations against David (2 Samuel 15:1-4), by which men's hearts were stolen away from him, and his character blackened. His enemies made the most of these vicious reports, and turned them into spiteful malicious reproach (Compare: Psalm 69:18-20). “This,” said they, “is David, anointed to be king of Israel, a goodly monarch indeed! Forsaken by God and men, and in a desperate and perishing condition. He pretends great piety to God, and loyalty to Saul; but, in truth, he is a great impostor, and a traitor and rebel to his king.” This is a common state of affairs for the people of God; and though it may be the least of their afflictions, yet it is not gratifying to the flesh; and its impact depends upon how it is made: under divine providence saints rejoice, and take pleasure in reproaches, that they are counted worthy to bear them, and esteem them as great benefits; at other times they seize and feed upon their spirits, and may even break their hearts. “My enemies,” saidDavid, “Had drawn all men to their side; they were against me, even my “best” friends.” He was subjected to their reproaches, or was slandered and reviled by them. “But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people” (Psalm 22:6).


But especially among my neighbours

“But especially among my neighbors”—not that they reproached (found fault with) him more than others, but that he felt their reproaches more intensely, because he thought of them as friends. The original is as awkward as the translation, and we should probably connect this clause with the preceding one, and read, “I am become an extreme reproach unto my neighbors.”I was reproached by no one whose reproach hurt me more than my neighbors. They showed special distrust of me, and displayed special unkindness, even more than my enemies did. They turned away from me. They abandoned me. They would not associate with me. They regarded me as a disgrace to them, and forsook me. Compare Job 19:13-15, “He has alienated my family from me; my acquaintances are completely estranged from me.My relatives have gone away; my closest friends have forgotten me.My guests and my female servants count me a foreigner; they look on me as on a stranger. Poor Job; It seems like he never got a break.


It is obvious that David was aware he had become a burden to all his neighbors; which aggravates their sin, and his misery, partly because they were obliged by the laws of neighborliness to treat him in a friendly manner; and partly because they were daily witnesses of his integrity, and therefore sinned against their own knowledge. His neighbors knew him, and knew he did not deserve to be treated so poorly; and who ought, as neighbors, to have loved him, and treated him well; so when they found fault with him, it was an aggravation both of their sin and his misery.


And a fear to mine acquaintance

“A fear” means “a terror.” They were afraid to give me any approval, encouragement, moral support, or assistance, or to be seen in his company; since they had been warned by Ahimelech that they would be punished for it (See 1 Samuel 22). It was not that they were afraid that he would do them any harm; but they were afraid to acknowledge him, and to do him any service; unless the sense is, that they were afraid that evil would befall him, that he would not escape with his life; which, though it may express the affectionate concern of his friends, yet it also shows the danger he was exposed to; that he was such an object of dread or terror, that they fled from him.


David’s acquaintances were afraid of being recognized as friends of his, since that might involve them in his ill repute. They were afraid to recognize him when they met him "out of doors," or "in the street."


They that did see me without fled from me

“Fled from me” (Literally, fluttered away like frightened birds.), to avoid all contact with me, and not wishing to be seen with me: David said, “You have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them. I am confined and cannot escape” (Psalm 88:8). “They that did see me without”—those that met me as I walked outside; fled from me, as if he had something very pestilential and infectious about him—to prevent their own danger and downfall, which might have been caused by their appearing to have any acquaintance, or friendship with me.” Not only those in my own house—the members of his own family—regarded me in this manner, but the passers-by in the streets—those whom I accidentally met—turned from me and fled in disgust and horror. Fled from me; either loathing me as a monster, and an unlucky spectacle, and that I really was the evil person that my enemies represented me to be; or to prevent their own danger and ruin, which might be caused by it. It is not possible now to determine at what time in the life of the psalmist this occurred, or to ascertain the exact circumstances. There were, doubtless, times when with the saddest feelings he could say that all this was true of him. His troubles in the time of his persecutions by Saul, and still more probably his trials in the time when Absalom rebelled against him, and when he was driven away from his throne and his capital, would furnish an occasion when this would be true. If the latter was the occasion, then we can see how naturally he would connect all this with his "iniquity," and regard it as the consequence of his sin in the matter of Uriah—a sin which would probably always be on  his mind, and which he would always regard as lying at the foundation of all his afflictions.


12 I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel.


I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind

“I am forgotten,” either by his friends, being out of sight, out of mind; as even the dearest relatives and acquaintances are, with the passage of time, when a person is dead—or by the Lord; which shows the weakness of his faith; the uncomfortable situation he was in, through darkness and desertion—“Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom you remember no more: and they are cut off from your hand” (Psalm 88:5). The same idea is expressed in Ecclesiastes 9:5—“For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten”


“I am forgotten”—what good service I have done for the king or kingdom, or to any particular persons, which they have sometimes acknowledged and highly commended, has been forgotten by all of them: or at least they behave toward me like it were so. I have become like a dead man whose name and memory are lost within a few days.


“I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind”—the expression is nearly the same in meaning as our common English proverb: "out of sight, out of mind." The sense is that a man who is dead is soon forgotten. He is missed at first by a few friends, while the rest of the world knows little or nothing about him, or cares little or nothing for him. He is no longer seen where his friends have been accustomed to see him; at his place of business, at the social events, at the places of amusement, in the streets, or in his church. For a short period a vacancy is created which attracts attention and causes sorrow. But the world moves on. Another comes to fill his place, and soon his absence ceases to be a subject of conversation, or a cause of regret; the world says little about him, and soon he ceases to be remembered. At some future time the marble slab with his name on it, falls down. Those passing by cast an eye upon the “name,” but he neither knows nor cares who he was.


It is sad to think that this will be our lot; but it is. It would cast a gloomy shade over life if this was to be the end of man, and if, when he passed from existence, he also passes from the recollection of the living. The idea of the psalmist here is, that, in the circumstances to which he referred, he had been forgotten by mankind, and he uses the most striking image which could be employed to convey that idea.


  • Psalm 88:12: “Are your wonders known in the place of darkness, or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?”
  •  Ecclesiastes 9:5: “For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten.”
  • Job 19:14: “My relatives have gone away; my closest friends have forgotten me.”


I am like a broken vessel

 “I am like a broken vessel:” of no value to anyone, only fit to be thrown away; a vessel of hades; a lost vessel; a piece of pottery made of clay that is easily broken and rendered worthless; one entirely useless, entirely lost, and irrecoverable; which can never be put together again; “It will break in pieces like pottery, shattered so mercilessly that among its pieces not a fragment will be found for taking coals from a hearth or scooping water out of a cistern” (Isaiah 30:14). It was a sad awareness he had of himself, as if his case was desperate, and he was a vessel of wrath—“What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction?” (Romans 9:22). 


A “broken vessel” was a favorite image with Jeremiah (See Jeremiah 19:11Jeremiah 22:28Jeremiah 25:34Jeremiah 48:38), but not peculiar to him among the prophets. (See Hosea 8:8)



13 For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side: while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life.


For I have heard the slander of many

“For I have heard (partly with my own ears, and partly by information from others) the slander of many” is a way of saying “there is conspiracy all around.” Both his enemies and neighbors were plotting evil against him. David felt like all his “friends” watched for him to fall, saying, “Perhaps he will be deceived, and we shall prevail against him, and we shall take our revenge on him.” We are informed here of another source of the trouble that came upon him. It was "slander." He had already referred to "two" sources of trouble; one Psalm 31:11 that he was "reproached" by his friends and neighbors, and was shunned by them; a second, that he was "forgotten" by those who ought to have remembered him, they treated him as though he were dead, Psalm 31:12. The third is referred to here; namely, that he was the object of "slander," or of false reports. We are not told the "nature" of those false charges. But it is not necessary that we know precisely what they were. It is enough, for us to see the depth and aggravation of his trouble, to know that he "was" exposed to this; and that, to all that he had to endure from other sources, there was this added—that his name was reproached and snubbed as if he was an evil person—that he was subjected to "slander," and his name defamed as a violent and subversive person, an enemy to the public peace, a conspirator against the king’s life or dignity. Jeremiah 20:10 reproduces word for word the first two clauses. “For I heard the mocking of many, fear on every side . . .”


Fear was on every side

“Fear was on every side,”—in his own heart, and in the hearts of all his friends—when his enemies held a formal council, in which the matter discussed was the best means for taking his life. The particulars of such a council are given in 2 Samuel 17:1-14. From the causes already specified, he did not know whom to trust. He seemed to have no friend. He was afraid, therefore, of every one that he met. Terror on every side is a favorite phrase with the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 6:25Jeremiah 20:3-4Jeremiah 46:5Jeremiah 49:29Lamentations 2:22).


While they took counsel together against me

They entered into a conspiracy which concerned how to apprehend him, and what to do with him. “The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the LORD and against his anointed” (Psalm 2:2).


They devised to take away my life

“They devised to take away my life” and nothing short of that would satisfy them; but life is in the hand of God; men may plan, but God disappoints, and his counsel stands; hence the psalmist was encouraged, after all, to trust in Him, during this time of imminent danger, when they plotted to kill me. These are the grounds of the earnest prayer which he pleads in verse 9: "Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am in trouble." It is apparent from the last clause of verse 2 that they sought to take David’s life; "I will smite the king only."



14 But I trusted in thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my God.


But I trusted in thee, O Lord

“But I trust in thee, O Lord,” in these times of trial—when his eye was consumed with grief (v. 9); when his years were spent with sighing, his strength failed, and his bones were consumed (v. 10); when he was a reproach among his neighbors, and dreaded by his acquaintances (v. 11); when he was forgotten as a dead man (v. 12); and when he was surrounded with causes of alarm (v. 13). Then he trusted in God. His confidence did not fail. His faith revived again under all the discouraging experiences he had gone through, with help from the Lord; he committed himself to Him (v. 6), believing He was able to help him in his time of trouble, and deliver him. He believed that God was his Father and Friend; that He was on the throne; that He could protect and defend him; and he left himself and his cause with Him. In such circumstances as these there is no other sure refuge but God; at such times the strength of faith is shown, and then it is seen that the power and value of religion is pre-eminent.


What a blessed saving clause thisis! So long as our faith, which is our shield, is safe and sound, the battle may be difficult, but its ultimate result is never in doubt; but, if our faith could be torn from us, we would be slain as surely as were Saul and Jonathan upon the high places of the field.


I said, thou art my God


“I said,” rather “I have said,” “Thou art my God.” In all my sufferings, dangers, and difficulties, I have always clung to thee, and said, "Thou, and thou alone, art, and ever shalt be, my God." Thou art all that is implied in the name "God;" and thou art mine. He felt assured that God would not forsake him, though men did; that he might confide in Him, though his earthly friends all turned away. There is always one (God) who will not leave or forsake us; and the friendship and favor of that One is of more value to us than that of all other beings in the universe combined.


He proclaimed aloud his determined allegiance to Jehovah. He was no fair-weather believer. "Thou art my God," has more sweetness in it than any other utterance which human speech can express. Note that this amazing faith of David is mentioned as an argument with God to honour his own promise by sending a speedy deliverance (v. 15). Men turn from him, but he turns to God. Compare.

  • Psalm 16:2: “I say to the LORD, "You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.
  • Psalm 140:6: “I say to the LORD, "You are my God." Hear, LORD, my cry for mercy.”
  • Psalm 7:1: “. . . LORD my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me.”



15 My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.


My times are in thy hand

The expression “My times,” refers to the course of life; “all the varied events, happy or sad, which make up the discernible web of life.” Every one of them,all the affairs and events of my life, is designed and controlled by thee. “Time” is often used when referring to things done or accidents that have happened. (Compare: 1 Chronicles 29:30; Job 11:17; Psalm 37:18; Ecclesiastes 9:11; Daniel 2:21; Acts 17:26.)


“My times are in thy hand” means “the ups and downs of my life (my destiny)” are all under Thy control, and at Thy disposal; and not at all in my enemies’ power, who can do nothing against me, unless it be given them from above. The same can be said of his death, which was only by the direction and appointment of God, was in His power, and at a time fixed by Him; nor could his enemies take away his life before his time, and without the will of his covenant God: the time of his coming to the throne, and all that had gone on thus far during his reign—“With all his reign and his might, and the times that went over him, and over Israel, and over all the kingdoms of the countries” (1 Chronicles 29:30); and all his times of trouble; times of prosperity and of adversity; of darkness, desertion, and temptation; and of joy, peace, and comfort; these were all in the hands of the Lord, at his disposal, and directed by Him for the good of His servant, and for the glory of His own name; and this was a calming influence for the psalmist under his present trials and problems. So, all the maneuverings and scheming of the foe cannot prevail against one whom God intends to deliver.


We “live” as long as it pleases God for us to do so. It was His to give life; His to preserve it; His to take it away. Everything that relates to life—its origin—its continuance—its changes—its phases—childhood, youth, middle age, old age—all was in God’s hands. No one, therefore, could take his life before the time that had been appointed by God, and he might calmly commit his whole life to Him. This we may feel free to do in all phases of life and in all times of danger; of sickness; of weakness. We shall live as long as God has appointed; we shall pass through such changes as He directs; we shall die when and where and how He chooses. In the faithful performance of our duty, therefore, we may commit all these things to Him, and leave it all at his disposal.

Deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me


“Deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me” (vs. 1, 2, 4). The great need under his existing circumstances was deliverance. David looked daily for Absalom to “pass over Jordan, and all the men of Israel with him” (2 Samuel 17:24). A battle was imminent. If the day went against David, and his army was defeated, he would very likely fall into the hands of his “enemies” and “persecutors,” in which case he could have little hope that they would spare his life (2 Samuel 17:2, 12).A good man has many enemies, and even his very goodness creates them; for wicked men are enemies to all that is good; and they are persecutors, in one way or another; either by words or actions; and deliverance out of their hands is by the Lord, who sometimes gives his people a break from adversity, and does not allow the rod of the wicked to continue to hurt them; and therefore it is best to apply to Him for help. Deliver me from the hand of mine enemies”—that is, since all these things are under thy control; since thou hast power over my life and over all that pertains to me, I pray that thy power may be exerted in my behalf, and that my life may be rescued from danger. This was his prayer in the midst of his troubles, and this prayer was heard.



16 Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: save me for thy mercies' sake.


Make thy face to shine upon thy servant

Turning from himself and his current unfavorable circumstance, he calls upon God to show His displeasure with the wicked, and prays that their malicious persecution of him may be stopped. He prays for the gracious presence of God, the indications of Himself unto him, the discoveries of His love, the enjoyment of Him in Christ, communion with Him, the comforts of His Spirit, and joys of His salvation. This expression, was used first in the blessing of Moses: “The LORD make his face shine on you, and be gracious to you” (Numbers 6:25). It may be regarded as equivalent to “Be thou favorable and gracious unto thy servant.”  Its intrinsic beauty and poetry made it a favorite of the psalmist, who used it frequently. Compare:

  • Psalm 4:6: “There be many that say, Who will show us any good? LORD, lift you up the light of your countenance on us.”
  • Psalm 67:1: “God be merciful to us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine on us; Selah.”
  • Psalm 119:135: “Make your face to shine on your servant; and teach me your statutes.”    


Save me for thy mercies' sake

“Save me for thy mercies' sake”—on account of thy mercy; or so that thy mercy may be shown—not for any merit and righteousness of his own, but for the sake of the grace and goodness of the Lord; which is putting salvation, whether physical or spiritual, upon its right footing and foundation; which is never produced by, or is for works of righteousness done by men, but according to the grace and mercy of God. This is always a good ground for appeal to God by a sinner or a sufferer, that God would make our sins and trials an “occasion” for displaying His own character. There are, indeed, many other grounds of appeal; but there is none that is more pure or glorious than this.



17 Let me not be ashamed , O LORD; for I have called upon thee: let the wicked be ashamed , and let them be silent in the grave.


Let me not be ashamed, O Lord

The petition is the same as in verse 1; “In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness.” While my prayers are answered, let my enemies be silenced and consigned to Sheol. A similar prayer is found in Psalm 25:2-3, and Jeremiah 17:18.


“Let me not be ashamed, O Lord, for I have called upon thee”—that is, I have placed my entire confidence in thee, and in thy promises, in the time of trial; let the result show that I had good reason to trust in thee; that thy character is such that the persecuted and the afflicted may always find thee to be a safe and secure refuge. In other words, let me not be disappointed, and made "ashamed" in front of men, as if I had put my trust where no help can be found, or where there was nothing worthy of unreserved confidence.


For I have called upon thee

The Lord is close to all that call upon Him in sincerity, and is abundantly generous to them, and has promised to help and save them; but if He didn’t do it, not only would he be made ashamed, but the promise of God would seem to fail: because the psalmist does not mention any obligation on his part, nor does he claim that his prayers deserve to be answered; but he places his confidence in the promise and faithfulness of God. I have called upon thee;” and therefore thy honor will have a shadow cast over it by my disappointment, as if You did not hear prayers, or keep Your promises, or make any difference between good and bad men. David could honestly say, “I have always been a true worshipper of You. Even when I have sinned (v. 10), my sins have not been ‘sins of unfaithfulness,’ but lapses, sins of unpremeditated yielding to temptation. 


Let the wicked be ashamed

“Let the wicked be ashamed,” as they will be, sooner or later, of their wickedness, and of their false trust and confidence; of their being enraged against Christ, and their rage against His people, and their persecution of them.


“Let the wicked be ashamed”—Let them be disappointed in that on which they had put their trust; let it be seen that they, in their wicked plans, had no safe ground for confidence. They rely on their own strength; their skill; their courage; their resources; and not on God. Let it now be seen that these things constitute no safe ground for trust; and do not let others be encouraged to follow their example by any success that shall come to them and their plans.


“Let the wicked be ashamed;” frustrated in achieving their wicked plans, and worldly confidence. Seeing they are merciless and relentless in their hatred and rage against innocent and good men, cut them off by Your just judgment; and since either the righteous or the wicked must be cut off, let destruction fall upon them, who deserve it the most.


“Let the wicked be ashamed.” Bring shame upon those who are my enemies and Yours—the wicked and unrepentant generally—and, among them are my present adversaries, those who have come together in order to wage war against me. 


And let them be silent in the grave

“And let them be silent in the grave,” as all are that are there; and the sense is, let them be brought to the grave, where they will be silent; that is, from their evil words and works, and particularly from burdening the saints, “There the wicked cease from turmoil, and there the weary are at rest” (Job 3:17). Some render it, “Let them be cut off by the grave.” The Hebrew for grave is “Sheol.” The more correct translation is that which is in the text, "Let them be silent." That is, let them go down to the grave—to “Sheol”—to the "underworld"—to the “land of silence.” “Sheol,” the grave, is represented as a land of “silence.” This idea is derived from "the grave," where the dead rest in silence; and the meaning here is, let them be cut off and consigned to that land of silence. Let a stop be put to their slanders (ver. 13) and lying speeches (ver. 18); let them he silenced by removal from this world to the land of the departed. Let death destroy them to the intent that they may hurt no more. It is a prayer that the wicked may not triumph. Compare:

  • Isaiah 14:9: “The realm of the dead below is all astir to meet you at your coming; it rouses the spirits of the departed to greet you—all those who were leaders in the world; it makes them rise from their thrones—all those who were kings over the nations.” The ghosts of the departed were regarded as weak and nerveless, in comparison with living men.
  • Job 10:21-22: “before I go to the place of no return, to the land of gloom and utter darkness,to the land of deepest night, of utter darkness and disorder, where even the light is like darkness.” Job's idea of the receptacle of the dead, while it has some analogies with the Egyptian under-world, and even more with the Greek and Roman conceptions of Hades or Orcus, was probably derived from Babylonia, or Chaldea, on which the land that he inhabited bordered (Job 1:17).
  • Psalm 16:10: “Because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.”The confidence in a future life shown here is beyond that exhibited by Job. Job hopes that he may not always remain in Hades, but may one day experience a "change" or "renewal" (Job 14:14); David is certain that his soul will not be left in hell. Hell (Sheol) is to him an "intermediate state.”



18 Let the lying lips be put to silence ; which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous.


Let the lying lips be put to silence

“The lying lips” are the slanderous tongues; the lips which speak lies.


“Be put to silence,”either by Thy discovery and vindication of my integrity; or by some looming judgment, which may either convince them, or remove them.


“Let the lying lips be put to silence”—“They speak vanity every one with his neighbor: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaks proud things” (Psalm 12:2-3).The men who flatter with their lips, beguiling and cheating, deceiving, and tricking their victims in order to get them completely into their power, shall be "cut off" from the congregation (see Genesis 17:14; Exodus 12:15, 19; Leviticus 7:20, 27; Leviticus 17:10). The reference here is especially to those who had spoken in this manner against the psalmist himself, though he makes the language general, or prays in general that God would silence all liars: it is certainly a prayer in which all persons may well join him. These liars, having been convicted of the lies told by them, and subsequently silenced and confounded; or cut off and destroyed, as all such liars will be in the Lord's own time—“The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaks proud things” (Psalm 12:3). It is very likely the psalmist may have in mind, either Doeg the Edomite, who loved lying rather than righteousness; or to others that were in Saul’s court, who told him that David wanted to harm him, even to take away his kingdom and his life—“You love evil more than good; and lying rather than to speak righteousness. Selah” (Psalm 52:3). 

Which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous


By dividing this clause into 3 parts we will have a clearer understanding of the thing the Holy Spirit intends to convey: “Which speak grievous things”proudly and contemptuously”“against the righteous.”


“Which speak grievous things”the Hebrew means ‘what is hard,’ or ‘hard things,’ or words which are “bold, impudent, wicked;” he means those things which were grievous and hard to bear, such as bitter slander, cruel mocking, terrible threatenings, and the like.Arrogant may be better than grievous here, as in 1Samuel 2:3. (Compare Psalm 94:4; Psalm 75:5) The phrase means, to speak wickedly, or to speak in a bold, reckless, impudent manner; that is, without regard to the truth of what is said.David may have been referring to the hard and lying speeches, which were spoken against him, in a proud, haughty, and contemptuous manner. And it is not unusual for such false charges to be brought against righteous men: such hard speeches were spoken by ungodly men against Jesus Christ the righteous himself—“to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 1:15). The sense appears to be, to convince all that are ungodly; those who are without God, the fear of Him, love for Him, or faith in Him; who have lived without worshipping Him, or in a false worship; and particularly false teachers, as in Jude 1:4; who will be convicted in their own consciences, by that clear evidence, and full light, in which things will be placed. (Compare: 1 Samuel 2:3; Psalm 60:3; 94:4)


“Proudly and contemptuously”—literally, in pride and contempt; with great arrogance, and confidence of success, and contempt for me and my friends, whom they look upon as a small number of helpless fugitives, which they can blow away with their breath.They converse in a manner which shows that they are proud of themselves and despise others. Slander may always imply this. People are secretly proud of themselves; or they “yearn” to have an exalted opinion of themselves, and to have others manifest the same opinion of them; and therefore, since they cannot exalt themselves by their own excellence, as they desire, they attempt to humble others below their real merit, and to a level lower than themselves, by slander.


“Against the righteous”—that is, against us, whom You know to be righteous, in spite all their false accusations, and therefore for Your love of righteousness save us, and silence our unjust enemies.Though he may refer here to the righteousness of his cause before men, and assert himself righteous, as he might truthfully do with respect to the “grievous things;” not that he thought of himself as righteous in the sight of God due to any righteousness of his own, but by the righteousness of Christ imputed to him—“Do not bring your servant into judgment, for no one living is righteous before you” (Psalm 143:2).



19 Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!


O how great is thy goodness

David turns from prayer to praise, and in the next four verses (vs. 19-22) he eulogizes the goodness and mercy and marvelous loving-kindness of God, who has done gloriously for his people in the past.No words can express the greatness of Thy love and blessings.


“Oh how great is thy goodness.” It is unusual to find such a pleasing sentence in connection with so much sorrow? Truly, the life of faith is a miracle. When faith led David to his God, she immediately set him to singing. He does not tell us how great God’s goodness was to him, because he couldn’t do it; there is no way in which the goodness of Jehovah can be measured, for He is goodness itself. Holy amazement uses expressions of exclamation when words of explanation utterly fail. If we cannot measure we can marvel; and though we may not calculate with accuracy, we can adore with gusto.


The “goodness” meant here is not the natural and essential goodness of God; for though that is large, abundant, and infinite, as is every perfection of His, yet it is not correct to say that it is laid up and wrought; but rather the effects of His goodness, and not those which appear in Providence, for they, though very large and plentiful, are common to all, and are not reserved for them that fear the Lord, and trust in Him; but are displayed in special grace and favour to his own people, and which supported the psalmist faith even under his present troubles, and they appeared to be so great, both in quality and quantity, that he could not say with certainty how great the blessings of his goodness were.


The psalmist seems to have felt that it was an inexpressible privilege to be permitted to appeal to God with the assurance of divine protection. In few circumstances do people feel more grateful for the opportunity of appealing to God than when they are reviled and slandered, since there is nothing which we feel more intensely than slander and criticism, so there can be no circumstances where we appreciatemore the privilege of having such a Refuge and Friend as God. God’s goodness to those who fear Him is like an inexhaustible treasure stored up, and at the proper time brought out and used for them that take refuge (v. 1) in Him; and especially when it is done publicly in the sight of man—“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows” (Psalm 23:5).


Which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee

Hidden may be better than “Laid up.” (Compare Psalm 17:14; Obadiah 1:6) Hidden as a treasure for the faithful, and now brought out and displayed in the presence “of the sons of men.” “Laid up” is "treasured up,” in the Hebrew. That is, goodness and mercy had been, as it were, "treasured up" for such an emergency—as a man treasures up food in autumn for the needs of winter, or wealth for the needs of old age. The goodness of God is thus a treasure stored up for the needs of His people—a treasure always accessible; a treasure that can never be exhausted.


The Psalmist, after some contemplation divides goodness into two parts, that which is in store and that which is wrought out (next clause). The treasures of God's mercy are always laid up in store for His children, even at times when they do not enjoy them.


The Lord has “laid up” in reserve for His people supplies exceeding all calculation. In the treasury of the covenant, in the field of redemption, in the treasure chest of the promises, in the warehouses of providence, the Lord has provided for all the needs which can possibly fall upon His chosen ones. We ought often to consider the goodness of God which has not yet been distributed to the chosen, but is already provided for them; if we are often in such meditations, we shall be led to feel the same devout gratitude that glowed in the heart of David.


The blessings of grace were laid up in God's heart, in His thoughts and purposes, from everlasting; and in Christ, in whom the fullness of all grace dwells; He was loaded with the blessings of goodness, and His people were blessed in Him with all spiritual blessings, and had all grace given them in Him before the world was; and these were likewise laid up in the covenant of grace. Eternal glory is the hope and crown of righteousness laid up in heaven, where it is reserved for the saints, who are heirs of it: and the laying up of all this goodness shows it to be a treasure, riches of grace, and riches of glory; and that it is a hidden treasure, which is out of the view of flesh and blood men, and not perfectly seen and enjoyed by the people of God themselves, as yet; but is kept safe and secure for them, and can never be lost; and it expresses the paternal care of God, His great love and affection for them, to lay up so early so much goodness for them. And this is said to be “for them that fear Him;” not naturally, but by His grace; for the fear of God is not in man naturally, but is put there by the grace of God. His favor is not always shown to them, but it is laid up for them in His treasure, hence it shall be given them when they need it, and when he sees fit to do it.


“For them that fear thee,” or "reverence" thee—fear or reverence is often used to denote friendship with God, or religion. “But I, by your great love, can come into your house; in reverence I bow down toward your holy temple” (Psalm 5:7).


Which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!

“Which thou hast wrought,” or has prepared, or will prepare, or has “made,” or, “which thou hast secured as if by labor;” that is, by planning and preparation;  by which may be meant the work of redemption, in which the goodness of God prominently appears; in calling and appointing Christ unto it, in sending Him to accomplish it, in strengthening Him as man and Mediator to do it; and in the work itself, in which many things are wrought, the law is fulfilled, justice satisfied, a righteousness brought in, peace made, pardon procured, and everlasting salvation obtained. And this is said to be “wrought for them that trust in” the Lord; it is not that trusting in the Lord was the cause of this work being wrought (produced), but rather, it is the love of God and grace of Christ that has done this work; but insofar as those that trust in the Lord have an interest in redemption, and they that believe in Christ shall be saved, it clearly appears in the issue of things to be wrought out for them. It was not by chance that that goodness had been provided; God had done it in a manner resembling the act of a man who lays up treasure for his future use by plan and by toil. The idea is, that all this was the "work" of a benevolent God; a God who had carefully anticipated the wants of His people. God had wrought His mercies for His own people, but in the sight of men generally, whether good or bad. Heavenly mercy is not hidden in a storehouse; in a thousand ways it has already revealed itself on behalf of those who are bold enough to acknowledge their confidence in God. This goodness of the Lord has been displayed before their fellow men, so that a faithless generation might suffer rebuke. The proofs of the Lord's favor are overwhelming to believers; history teems with amazing instances of it, and our own lives are full of the wonders of grace. We serve a good Master. Faith receives a large reward even now, but looks for her full inheritance in the future. Who would not desire to take his lot with the servants of a Master whose boundless love fills all holy minds with astonishment?


“For them that trust in thee”—who rely upon Thee in trouble, in danger, and in want; who feel that their only reliance is upon Thee, and who do actually trust in Thee.


“Before the sons of men”—publicly, and in the view of the world, even their enemies seeing, admiring, and envying it, but not being able to hinder it.God had not only laid it up in secret, making provision for the wants of His people, but he had worked out this deliverance before people, or had shown His goodness to them openly. The acts of benevolence or goodness in this case were—“first,” that He had "treasured up" the resources of His goodness for them by previous arrangement, or by anticipation; and “second,” that He had “wrought out” deliverance, or had “manifested” His goodness by intervening to save, and by doing it openly, so that it might be seen by mankind.



20 Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.


Thou shall hide them in the secret of thy presence

“Thou shall hide them,” that is, those that fear the Lord and trust in him; and therefore they are called His “hidden ones,”—“They have taken crafty counsel against your people, and consulted against your hidden ones” (Psalm 83:3). The elect of God are His secret ones: for He hides them in the secret of His tabernacle, and preserves them from all dangers. The Lord preserves them in times of trouble and danger; the presence of God is their protection, He himself is a wall of fire round about them, His favor protects them like a shield, and they are kept as in a garrison by His power—“He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1).The idea is that of having one's home or residence in the most holy place in the tabernacle or the temple, and of sitting with Him in that sacred place. Thou shalt hide (or, thou hidest) them in the secret of thy presence” from the conspiracies of man. Intense light forms as good a hiding-place as intense darkness. No vision can penetrate it. It is "too dazzling bright for the mortal eye." Thus, those whom God brings close to himself, and on whom He pours the light of his countenance, need no other protection. Their life is hid in God.


 The secret of thy presence”—or, ‘covering of Thy countenance;’ the protection He provides. Psalm 27:5 is similar: “For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up on a rock.” “In the hiding-place of thy countenance,” is better, for it is a beautiful thought and a common expression in the Psalms, although expressed by different images. In Psalm 27:5, “the secret (hiding-place) of his tabernacle;” Psalm 61:4, “of his wings;” Psalm 91:1, “of his shadow.”The form the same image takes in the Christian’s hope is beautifully expressed by Tennyson:

“To lie within the light of God as I lie upon your breast,

And the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest.”


 The phrase “secret of thy presence” means thy “secret presence.” The Hebrew is: “the secret of thy face;” and the idea is, that He would hide them, or remove them from public view, or from the view of their enemies, into the very place where He Himself dwelt, so that they would be before Him and near Him; so that His eye would be upon them, and that they would be certain of His protection. The language here is the same as in Psalm 27:5, except that the word "face" or "presence" is used here instead of the word "tabernacle." The idea is the same. The hiding-place is called “the secret,” partly because the greatest part of the world are strangers to God and His presence; and partly because it is a safe and secure place, which secret and unknown places usually are.


Thou shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues

“Thou shall keep (or, thou keepest them) them secretly.” Thou wilt "hide" them as if they were with Thyself. God’s secret favor and providence works mightily, yet secretly, for them, and saves them by hidden and unknown methods. This is opposed to those caves, or other obscure and unsafe places, where David was forced to hide himself. 


“In a pavilion”—or, as in thy pavilion, or tabernacle;in the secret of God’s tabernacle, as it is called in Psalm 27:5; the place of God’s special presence, where none dares to enter except the high priest. God keeps His own in a “pavilion,” or leafy arbor, a place of coolness and refreshment, far away from the "lying lips" (v. 18) and slanderous tongues (v. 13) of the ungodly. 


“From the strife of tongues”—or from the quarrelsome and slandering tongues, which are like a sharp sword, and from which proceed devouring words; such opposition from sinners as Christ endured. It is not that the saints are kept free from the reproaches of men, from the lash of their tongues, but from being harmed by them; and sometimes, through the strivings and contentions of men with one another, they privately escape and are preserved, as the Apostle Paul was: “And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees' part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not fight against God” (Acts 23:9). 



21Blessed be the LORD: for he hath shewed me his marvellous kindness in a strong city.


Blessed be the Lord

“Blessed be the Lord” is a form of thanksgiving, in which the psalmist calls upon himself and others to bless and praise the Lord for the remarkable mercy granted him, which is expressed in the next clause. Compare:

  •  Psalm 18:46: “The LORD lives; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted.” Let the God who has saved me from my enemies be exalted, be praised, be honored, be adored. Let His name be exalted above all idol gods; above all the creatures that He has made. The wish is, that His name might be made prominent; that all creatures might praise and honor Him.
  • Psalm 28:6: “Blessed be the LORD, because he has heard the voice of my supplications.”How soon are the sorrows of the saints turned into joy, and their prayers into praises!


For he hath showed me his marvellous kindness in a strong city

“For he hath showed me his marvellous kindness”—literally, “He has made his mercy wonderful;” that is, he has showed me the kind of mercy and kindness that was an object of admiration and astonishment. It was not ordinary kindness, like that which is shown to people every day; it was so uncommon—so far beyond all expectation—so divorced from the intercession of man—so striking in its character—that it fills the mind with wonder. “Show your marvelous loving kindness, O you that save by your right hand them which put their trust in you from those that rise up against them” (Psalm 17:7).Thy marvelous loving-kindness, particularly, in preserving and delivering me; which, if You do so, I must forever acknowledge it to be an act of kindness, or free grace, or an undeserved gift of marvelous kindness, because of my extreme and unrelenting dangers, out of which nothing but a wonder of God’s mercy and power can save me.


The “strong city” has been explained as Ziklag (Delitzsch), or Maha-naim (2 Samuel 17:24), but is probably as much a figure of speech as the “pavilion” of verse 20. God has showed David his marvelous loving-kindness by giving him an assurance of absolute security.


Keilah was a city which had gates and bars, where Saul thought he had David bottled-up, and that he could not escape his hands; but in spite of that, and though the inhabitants of that city intended to give him up, he was marvelously saved; as he also was from the Ziphites; and when Saul and his army had surrounded him, a surprising incident occurred, a messenger reported to Saul just as he was about to seize him that the Philistines had invaded the land (1 Samuel 23:7). Or the city of Jerusalem could be the “strong city,” which was fortified both by nature and construction, where he was brought and made Israel’s king, and there he enjoyed rest from all his enemies (2 Samuel 5:6). Or “the strong city” may have a spiritual meaning—“the church of God,” which is called a strong city, since it is built on Christ the Rock, and having salvation for walls and fortifications (Isaiah 26:1), where the Lord displays his banner of love, makes discoveries of his marvelous kindness, and directs His blessings forever. Some render it “as in a strong city,” and consider the sense to be, that he was safe, through the kindness of God shown to him in his salvation, as if he was in a fortified city, and this was marvelous in his eyes, as every instance of providential goodness is to the people of God; especially His loving-kindness shown in spiritual things, in choosing them in Christ, saving them by Him, regenerating them by His Spirit, and taking them into His family. 



22 For I said in my haste , I am cut off from before thine eyes: nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee.


For I said in my haste

The word rendered “haste” means that terror or alarm which causes one to flee, or to attempt to escape. It is not “haste” in the sense of an opinion formed too quickly, or formed rashly; it is “haste” in the sense of terror leading to sudden flight, or an effort to escape. David himself, in his hasty flight from Saul, when he and his men had almost surrounded him—“And Saul went on this side of the mountain, and David and his men on that side of the mountain: and David made haste to get away for fear of Saul; for Saul and his men compassed David and his men round about to take them” (1 Samuel 23:26)—which happened shortly after his deliverance in and from the strong city of Keilah.


“In my haste”—literally, in my fleeing away in fear; also, “in the utmost confusion and distress,” as in Psalm 116:11; or in my apprehension. Or, in my fear, or trembling, when my passion took away my understanding, and weakened my faith. And so, by my rashness and unfaithfulness, I deserved to have been forsaken.Humbly he confesses his lack of faith in the hour of trial, when he thought he was out of God’s sight. (Compare: Psalm 30:6Psalm 116:2; Jonah 2:4; Psalm 28:2) David's faith was not so advanced that he didn’t, from time to time, give-in to a sudden onset of fear (see 1 Samuel 27:12 Samuel 15:14; Psalm 31:13).


I am cut off from before thine eyes

His situation was very bad, his courage was greatly reduced, and his faith was just as low; he thought it was all over for him, and there was no way of escape, nor hope of it; and that he was like a branch cut off, ready to be cast into the fire; that he was cut off from the house of God, and from communion with Him; that he would never look upon Him again, and he would never enjoy His presence. This instance of weakness and unbelief is mentioned to illustrate the goodness of God, and to make His kindness appear to be even more marvelous when he is rescued from his enemies. That’s why the Lord sometimes allows His people to be in great distress, and their faith to be at the lowest point, when he appears to help them, and He makes it clear that their salvation is by His strong arm, and a consequences of His own good will, and not by them, or for any goodness of their own.


“I am cut off”—that is, I shall certainly be cut off from all the protection of Thy presence, or destroyed.


“From before thine eyes”—either, in thy very presence; or, so that I shall not be admitted into thy presence. “I shall be cut down, and no more permitted to come before thee to worship thee.” “No one remembers you when he is dead. Who praises you from the grave?” (Psalm 6:5). “I am cast out of thy sight, and out of the care of thy gracious providence; my case is desperate; or, cut off while You looked on, and did not pity or help me.”

Nevertheless, thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee

Though his faith was very low, and unbelief strongly prevailed, yet he was not so far gone that he would stop praying; for though he saw no rational way of escape, and feared the Lord would take no notice of him; yet he knew that nothing was impossible with Him, and therefore he still looked up to Him, as Jonah did when he thought himself in a like condition (Jonah 2:4); and the grace and goodness of God was such that He did not despise his prayer, but esteemed it even though it was accompanied with so much weakness and unbelief.

“Nevertheless thou heardest”—contrary to my apprehensions, I was heard and delivered. God's mercy went beyond the psalmist's faith—as it often does to His people now, far beyond what they hope for; far beyond what they even pray for; far beyond what they believe to be possible; so far beyond all this that the result, as in the case of David, was a matter of wonder and astonishment. God did not forsake His servant on account of this temporary failure of faith. No sooner did the psalmist rid himself of his extreme fear, and turn once more to God in prayer, than he was heard, and his prayer answered.


23 O love the LORD, all ye his saints: for the LORD preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer.


O love the Lord, all ye his saints

“O love the Lord, all ye his saints” is a very heartwarming appeal, which clearly reveals the deep love of the writer for his God: there is more beauty in the expression, because it reveals love towards an assailing God, love which many troubles could not quench. To bless him who gives is easy, but to cling to him who takes away is a work of grace. All the saints are benefited by the sanctified miseries of one of His saints, if they are led by earnest appeals to love their Lord more and better. If saints do not love the Lord, who will? Love is the universal debt of all who are saved; who are favored with the blessings of His grace—pardon, peace, and righteousness; and who are sanctified by His Spirit, and have principles of grace and holiness formed in their hearts: these are called upon to love the Lord, having that grace implanted in their souls. They are to express their thankfulness to Him, on account of His marvelous kindness shown to them; not by words, but by deeds, under a sense of the love and kindness of God to them; and to join with the psalmist in an affectionate reverence of Him, and trust in Him.


Those that have their own hearts full of love for God, cannot help but desire that others would love Him too: for in His love there is no need to fear a rival. It is a characteristic of all the saints that they love God; and yet they must still be called upon to love Him; to love Him more and better, and to give better proofs of their love. 

For the Lord preserveth the faithful

“For the Lord preserveth the faithful”—that is, those who receive and walk in the truth, who are steady and constant in their attachment to God and His cause, and are faithful to every trust placed in them by God and man. They are opposed to the proud doer mentioned in the next clause. They may have to bide their time, but the reward comes at last, and meanwhile all the cruel malice of their enemies cannot destroy them. He preserves all who trust in him, believe in Christ, and are faithful to His word and ordinances. He keeps them “from evil;” from the evil of sin; from a total and final falling away because of it; from the evil of the world; and from the evil one, Satan, from being destroyed by him and his temptations. He will never permit His own faithfulness to fail. He is a covenant keeping God, and is always true to His word and promises. 

And plentifully rewardeth the proud doer

The enemies and persecutors of God’s faithful ones, which was mentionedbefore, is what is intended here. These he dubs “proud doers,” because of their rebellion against God’s will, and their contempt for His threatenings and judgments, and their insolent and contemptuous conduct toward His people. All which proceeded from the pride in their hearts—“In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God” (Psalm 10:4). Such are all self-righteous persons, and all that speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the truly righteous (v. 18); who harass them, and oppress them. Such are the antichrist and his party, who exalts himself above all that is called God; but in all they proudly attempt to do, God is above them, and more than a match for them, and He sets himself against them; He resists them, and will reward them according to their works. This is also cause for gratitude: pride is so detestable in its acts that he who shall give it its righteous due, deserves the love of all God’s people.



24 Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.


Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart

“Be of good courage”or, be strongin the Lord, namely, in the Lord, and through confidence in His promises, which is a result of all his own experience of the goodness of God, and of His gracious intervention in the time of danger; He will not fail you. There is a similar exhortation at the close of a psalm, which is an instance of God's wonderful kindness to the psalmist; “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the LORD” (Psalm 27:14). By this, he would have the saints take heart, and be of good cheer, even in the greatest distresses, since their case cannot be worse than his was; and yet he had deliverance out of it—he exhorts others to be encouraged, and to feel assured that God would not leave or forsake them.


“And he shall strengthen your heart”—If they did their best to “be of good courage” when danger and difficulty assaulted them, then God would give them supernatural aid, strengthening their hearts with His gracious favour. The God you put your trust in, will, by that trust, impart fortitude and strength to you;He will animate you; He will enable you to meet every trial and opposition; he will keep you from becoming faint and disheartened.


All ye that hope in the Lord

“All ye that hope in the Lord (or for the Lord)literally, all ye that hope for the Lord; that hope for his help; that wait on him (see Job 14:14; and comp. Psalm 33:18, 22), and look to Him as your Deliverer; that rely on him for grace and glory, and to supply all your wants, or trust in the word of the Lord, the essential Word, the promised Messiah. They that hope in the Lord have reason to be of good courage, and to be strengthened; because nothing truly evil can happen to them, and nothing truly good for them shall be withheld from them. The eye of the Lord is on “all ye that hope in the Lord,” and he takes delight in them—“Behold, the eye of the LORD is on them that fear him, on them that hope for his mercy. Let your mercy, O LORD, be on us, according as we hope in you.” (Psalm 33:18, 22). Therefore, whoever would have safety must expect it only from the watchful eye and almighty hand of God.


All that put their trust in him, or all who expect assistance from him—it is a characteristic of true piety that all hope centers in God, or that the soul feels that there is no other ground for hope.

  1. The truly pious man has no hope of success in anything else, or from any other quarter, for he feels that God alone can give success.
  2. He does hope in God—in regard to all that he needs for himself as an individual; all that will be for the good of his family; all that will tend to bless the world; all that he desires in heaven. Hope in God cheers him, sustains him, comforts him; makes life happy and prosperous; and makes death calm, serene, triumphant.


[i] The divine wisdom manifest in the creation, government, and redemption of the world and often identified with the second person of the Trinity

[ii] Te De·um  [tey dey-oom, -uhm, tee dee-uhm]  is an ancient Latin hymn of praise to God, in the form of a psalm, sung regularly at matins in the Roman Catholic Church and, usually, in an English translation, at Morning Prayer in the Anglican Church, as well as on special occasions as a service of thanksgiving.

[iii] Usually, munitions. Materials used in war, especially weapons and ammunition. Also, material or equipment for carrying on any undertaking.

[iv] A trap or snare for game.

[v] Worship according to the dictates of the will or fancy; formal worship.

[vi] A total desertion of or departure from one's religion,