|<< Psalm 69 >>|
Barnes' Notes on the Bible
This psalm is said in the title to be a psalm of David, but on what occasion it was composed is not there intimated, nor can it be determined from the psalm itself. There is nothing "in" the psalm which is inconsistent with the supposition that it was composed by David; and, in fact, it has, in many respects, a strong resemblance to not a few of his undoubted compositions, as Psalm 6:1-10; Psalm 22; Psalm 25; Psalm 35; Psalm 38. Compare Psalm 42:1-11. On the expression in the title "To the chief Musician," see Notes in the Introduction to Psalm 4:1-8. On the words "upon Shoshannim," see the notes on the Title to Psalm 45.
On what occasion in the life of David the psalm was written cannot now be determined. There were many occasions in his life to which all that is said in the psalm might be applicable, for his was a life of many trials and perils; but the most natural interpretation would be that which ascribes it to the time of the rebellion of Absalom. Some have supposed that it was written at a later period than the time of David. Thus De Wette maintains that the closing verses Psalm 69:34-36 demonstrate that it must have been written in the time of the exile. Rosenmuller coincides with that opinion in regard to those verses, but supposes that they were added to the psalm (as originally composed) by some later author. It will be found, however, on examination of these verses, that there is nothing in them inconsistent with the supposition that the entire psalm was composed by David. The psalm evidently pertains to an individual sufferer; a man who regarded himself as suffering in the cause of religion, or on account of his zeal for the service of God. It is this fact which is laid at the foundation of the psalmist's prayer for the divine intervention. The author is a sufferer in the cause of God and of truth, and he beseeches God, in whose cause he suffers, on that account to interpose in his behalf.
There are several passages in the psalm which are applied in the New Testament to the Messiah and his times; Psalm 69:9, compare John 2:17, and Romans 15:3; Psalm 69:4, compare John 15:25; Psalm 69:21, compare Matthew 27:34, Matthew 27:48 (Mark 15:23, and John 19:29); Psalm 69:25, compare Matthew 23:38, and Acts 1:20. These passages, however, are of so "general" a character that they do not seem to have been designed to refer exclusively to the Messiah, or even to have had "any" original reference to him. The language is such that it "would accurately describe" the events to which it is applied; and the fact that the language is quoted in this manner in the New Testament history does not prove that the psalm had any original reference to the Messiah.
In the psalm, the sufferer first Psalm 69:1-6 describes his condition; he then Psalm 69:7-13 represents himself as suffering in the cause of God or of religion; then Psalm 69:14-18, prays to be delivered from these troubles. In Psalm 69:19-21 he again adverts to his sufferings with a more explicit reference to their cause, the malice of his enemies; and then Psalm 69:22-28 prays that his enemies may be destroyed. He anticipates that his prayer will be heard, and that this will have a favorable effect on others, leading them to praise God Psalm 69:29-33; and this leads him to look forward to the general prosperity of Zion - to the fact that Zion will be delivered out of all its troubles - as laying the foundation for universal praise Psalm 69:34-36.
1‹‹To the chief Musician upon Shoshannim, A Psalm of David.›› Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul.
Save me, O God - That is, Interpose and deliver me from the dangers which have come upon me.
For the waters are come in unto my soul - So as to endanger my life. Waters, deep, raging, overwhelming, are images of calamity or danger. See the notes at Psalm 32:6. Compare Psalm 42:7.
2I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.
I sink in deep mire - Margin, as in Hebrew, "the mire of the depth." This would denote either mire which was itself so deep that one could not extricate himself from it; or, mire found in a deep place, as at the bottom of a pit. Compare the notes at Psalm 40:2. An illustration of this might be drawn from the case of Joseph, cast by his brethren into a deep pit Genesis 37:24; or from the case of Jeremiah, thrown into a deep dungeon: "And they let down Jeremiah with cords; and in the dungeon there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire," Jeremiah 38:6.
Where there is no standing - No solid ground; nothing for the foot to rest on. "I am come into deep waters." Margin, as in Hebrew, "depth of waters." That is, waters where he could not touch the bottom - an image of some peril that threatened his life.
Where the floods overflow me - The waters. They break over my head. My life is "in danger."
3I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God.
I am weary of my crying - The word "crying" here does not mean weeping, or shedding tears, but calling upon God for help. He had grown weary; his strength had been exhausted in the act of calling upon God to assist him. See the notes at Psalm 6:6. This was an instance where one had called so long on God, and prayed so much and so earnestly, that his strength was gone. Compare Matthew 26:41.
My throat is dried - Or, "is parched up." The Hebrew word denotes to burn; to be enkindled; and then, to be inflamed. Here it means that by the excessive exertion of his voice, his throat had become parched, so that he could not speak.
Mine eyes fail - That is, become dim from exhaustion. I have looked so long in that one direction that the power of vision begins to fail, and I see nothing clearly. See the notes at Psalm 6:7. Compare Job 17:7; Psalm 31:9; Psalm 38:10.
While I wait for my God - That is, by continued "looking" to God. The word "wait" is not used here, nor is it generally in the Bible, as it is now with us, in the sense of looking for "future" interposition, or of doing nothing ourselves in expectation of what "may" occur; but it is used in the sense of looking to God alone; of exercising dependence on him; of seeking his aid. This is indeed connnected with the ordinary idea of abiding his will, but it is also an "active" state of mind - a state expressive of intense interest and desire. See the notes at Psalm 62:5.
4They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored that which I took not away.
They that hate me without a cause - Without any just reason; without any provocation on my part. There were many such in the case of David, for to those who rose up against him in the time of Saul, and to Absalom also, he had given no real occasion of offence. An expression similar to the one used here occurs in Psalm 35:19. See the notes at that passage. The "language" is applied to the Saviour John 15:25, not as having had original reference to him, but as language which received its most perfect fulfillment in the treatment which he received from his enemies. See the notes at John 15:25.
Are more than the hairs of mine head - The number is so great that it cannot be estimated.
They that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty - literally, "More than the hairs of my head are my haters falsely (those who hate me falsely); strong are those destroying me; my enemies." The idea is, that those who were numbered among his foes without any just provocation on his part were so numerous and strong that he could not contend with them.
Then I restored that which I took not away - Prof. Alexander renders this, "What I did not rob, then must I restore." This seems to have a proverbial cast, and the idea is, that under this pressure of circumstances - borne down by numbers - he was compelled to give up what he had not taken away from others. They regarded and treated him as a bad man - as if he had been a robber; and they compelled him to give up what he possessed, "as if" he had no right to it, or "as if" he had obtained it by robbery. This does not seem to refer to anything that was "voluntary" on his part - as if, for the sake of peace, he had proposed to give up that to which they had no claim, or to surrender his just rights, but to the act of compulsion by which he was "forced" to surrender what he had, "as if" he had been a public offender. How far it is proper to yield to an unjust claim for the sake of peace, or to act "as if" we had done wrong, rather than to have controversy or strife, is a point which, if this interpretation is correct, is not settled by this passage. It seems here to have been merely a question of "power."
5O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee.
O God, thou knowest my foolishness - The errors and follies of my life. Though conscious of innocence in this case - though he felt that his enemies hated him "without cause," and that they took what belonged to him and not to them, yet he was not insensible to the fact that he was a sinner, and he was not unwilling to confess before God, that, however conscious of uprightness he might be in his dealings toward people, yet toward God, he was a sinful man. From him he deserved all that had come upon him. Indeed the very calamities which had been permitted to come upon him were proof to his own mind that he was a sinner, and served, as they were doubtless designed, to turn his mind to that fact, and to humble him. The effect of calamities coming upon us, as reminding us of the fact that we are sinners, is often referred to in the Psalms. See Psalm 38:2-4; Psalm 40:12.
And my sins are not hid from thee - Margin, "guiltiness." The word used here has always attached to it the idea of "guilt." The meaning is, that God knew all his life; and that however unjust the conduct of "men" toward him might be when they treated him as if he had wronged them, yet considered as a part of the dealings of God, or as having been suffered to come upon him from God, all that had occurred was right, for it was a proper expression of the divine displeasure against his sins. We may feel that we have not wronged our fellow-men; yet even the treatment which we receive from them, however unjust so far as they are concerned, may be regarded as deserved by us at the hand of God, and as proper on his part as an expression of his displeasure for our transgressions against him, and as a proof that we are sinners. Trial never comes to us from any quarter except as founded on the fact that we are sinners; and even where there is entire innocence toward our fellow-men, God may make use of their passions to rebuke and discipline us for our sins toward himself.
6Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord GOD of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel.
Let not them that wait on thee - Those who worship thee; those who are thy true friends. True piety is often, in the Scriptures, represented as waiting on the Lord. See Psalm 25:3, Psalm 25:5; Psalm 37:9; Isaiah 40:31.
Be ashamed for my sake - On account of me; or, in consequence of what I do. Let me not be suffered to do anything that would make them ashamed of me, or ashamed to have it known that I belong to their number. I know that I am a sinner; I know that judgments come justly on me; I know that if left to myself I shall fall into sin, and shall dishonor religion; and I pray, therefore, that I may be kept from acting out the depravity of my heart, and bringing dishonor on the cause that I profess to love. No one who knows the evil of his own heart can fail to see the propriety of this prayer; no one who remembers how often people high in the church, and zealous in their professed piety, fall into sin, and disgrace their profession, can help feeling that what has happened to others "may" happen to him also, and that he has need of special prayer, and special grace, that he may go down into the grave at last without having brought dishonor upon religion.
Let not those that seek thee - Another phrase to denote people of true piety - as those who are "seeking" after God; that is, who are desirous of understanding his character, and obtaining his favor.
Be confounded for my sake - Let them not feel "disgraced" in me; let them not feel it a dishonor to have it said that I am one of their number, or that I profess to be united to them.
7Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face.
Because for thy sake I have borne reproach - In thy cause; in defense of thy truth; because I have professed to be a friend of God. The true reason why these calamities have come upon me is that I have been thy professed friend, and have endeavored to do my duty to thee. The reproach connected with religion in a world of sin, or where true religion is hated, has fallen on me.
Shame hath covered my face - The idea here is not that he had himself been ashamed of religion or of the service of God, but that he had suffered shame, derision, reproach among people for his professed attachment to the truth. Compare Psalm 44:15-16.
8I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children.
I am become a stranger unto my brethren - That is, They treat me as they would a stranger; as one in whom they have no interest, and whom they regard with no friendship. Compare the notes at Psalm 31:11.
And an alien unto my mother's children - A foreigner; one of another tribe or nation; one to whom they were bound by no tie of relationship. The allusion in the language "unto my mother's children" is intended to denote the most intimate relationship. In families where a man had many wives, as was common among the Hebrews, the nearest relationship would be denoted by being of the same "mother" rather than of the same "father." See the notes at Psalm 50:20. The same thing occurs also where polygamy is not practiced, in cases where a man has married more wives than one. The idea of the psalmist here, therefore, is, that his nearest relatives treated him as if he were a stranger and a foreigner. Compare Job 19:13-19.
9For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.
For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up - My zeal - my ardor - in the cause of religion (that is, of thy pure worship) has been so great as to consume me. It has been like a devouring fire within me. Zeal is represented under the idea of heat - as it is in the Greek language; and the characteristics of heat or fire are here applied to it. This passage is quoted in John 2:17, and applied to the Saviour, not as having had originally a reference to him, but as language which would accurately describe his character. See the notes at that passage.
And the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me - This, too, is applied, in the same way, to the Saviour, by the Apostle Paul, in Romans 15:3. See the notes at that passage.
10When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach.
When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting - The words "and chastened" are not in the original. The literal translation would be, "And I wept (away) my soul with fasting;" that is, I gave myself so much to fasting accompanied with weeping, that my strength was exhausted. This refers to his acts of devotion; to his endeavors to discipline his soul so as to lead a strictly religious life.
That was to my reproach - This may either mean that they accused him of hypocrisy and insincerity; or, that they charged him with folly for being so religious, so strict, so self-sacrificing, so serious - perhaps they would say, so superstitious, so gloomy, so fanatical. The latter best accords with the connection, since it was for his "religion" mainly that they reproached him, Psalm 69:7-9.
11I made sackcloth also my garment; and I became a proverb to them.
I made sackcloth also my garment - I put on sackcloth. This was often done as expressive of grief and sorrow. See Psalm 30:11, note; Psalm 35:13, note. Compare Isaiah 22:12; Daniel 9:3. In the case here referred to, this was an act of religion; an expression of penitence and humiliation.
And I became a proverb to them - A jest; a subject of derision; a by-word. They ridiculed me for it. Compare 1 Kings 9:7.
12They that sit in the gate speak against me; and I was the song of the drunkards.
They that sit in the gate speak against me - The gates of cities were places of concourse; places where business was transacted; places where courts were frequently held. See the notes at Job 29:7. Compare Isaiah 14:31; Isaiah 28:6; Psalm 9:14. Calvin supposes that as the gates were the places where the judges sat to administer justice, the meaning here is that magistrates, or those who were high in rank and power, joined in the cry of reproach against him. The more probable interpretation, however, is, that he was subject to the reproach of those who were gathered around these places - the people of business, and the idlers who were assembled there; or, as we should say, that he was the subject of "towntalk."
And I was the song of the drunkards - Margin, as in the Hebrew, "drinkers of strong drink." They made ballads or low songs about me. They selected me for an example in their drunken songs. David was not alone in this. It has not been uncommon that the songs of revellers and drunkards have been designed to turn piety and the pious into derision. Compare, alas! some of the songs of Burns. See Job 30:9, note; Psalm 35:15-16, notes.
13But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O LORD, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation.
But as for me - In respect to my conduct and my feelings in these circumstances, and under this treatment.
My prayer is unto thee - I indulge in no reproaches of others, and no recriminations. I do not permit myself to indulge in any revengeful feelings. I give myself to prayer. I look to God alone. I keep up my devotions, I maintain my habits of religion, notwithstanding their reproaches, and revilings. I do not allow these things to alter my course of life. Compare the notes at Daniel 6:10.
In an acceptable time - A time that is well-pleasing to thee; a time when thou wilt hear me. See Isaiah 49:83; Isaiah 61:2; 2 Corinthians 6:2. This implies
(a) that he had come to God when he was "disposed" to hear; and
(b) that he had heard him, and had answered his requests.
While others mocked, he continued to pray, and the Lord heard him. No time for prayer can be more "acceptable" to God than when others are reproaching us because we are his friends.
In the multitude of thy mercy hear me - In the abundance of thy mercy; or, in thy abounding compassion. This was the substance of his prayer.
In the truth of thy salvation - In the exercise of that faithfulness on which salvation depends; or which is manifested in the salvation of people. He prayed that God would show himself faithful to the promises which he had made to those who were seeking salvation.
14Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink: let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters.
Deliver me out of the mire - Out of my troubles and calamities. See Psalm 69:1-2.
And let me not sink - As in, mire. Let me not be overwhelmed by my sorrows.
Let me be delivered from them that hate me - All my enemies. Let me be saved from their machinations and devices.
And out of the deep waters - See Psalm 69:1-2. From my troubles.
15Let not the waterflood overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me.
Let not the waterflood overflow me - The stream; the volume of waters. The idea is that of a flood or stream rolling along, that threatened to drown him.
Neither let the deep swallow me up - The abyss; the deep waters.
And let not the pit shut her mouth upon me - In his anguish and distress he passes here from the idea of running streams, and deep waters, to that of a well, pit, or cavern - representing himself as "in" that pit, and praying that it might not be closed upon him, leaving him in darkness and in mire, from which he could not then escape. The general idea in all these expressions is the same - that of overwhelming calamities from which he prayed to be delivered.
16Hear me, O LORD; for thy lovingkindness is good: turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies.
Hear me, O L RD, for thy lovingkindness is good - Thy mercy - thy favor - is good; that is, it is ample, abundant, great: it delights in deeds of mercy; in acts of benevolence. This was the only ground of his plea; and this was enough. Compare Psalm 63:3.
Turn unto me - Incline thine ear unto me; turn not away, but be favorable to me.
According to the multitude of thy tender mercies - See the notes at Psalm 51:1. He felt that he had occasion for the exercise of "all" the mercy of God; that the case was one which could be reached only by the exercise of the highest kindness and compassion.
17And hide not thy face from thy servant; for I am in trouble: hear me speedily.
And hide not thy face from thy servant - See the notes at Psalm 27:9.
For I am in trouble - In the midst of dangers and sorrows. Literally, "there is trouble upon me."
Hear me speedily - Margin, as in Hebrew, "Make haste to hear me." That is, Grant me without delay what I ask. The case is one of urgent necessity. I "must" have relief or I shall perish. It is not wrong to ask God to interpose at once in our behalf when we are in trouble, though it is our duty to be patient and resigned if his interposition is delayed, for he may have important ends to accomplish by our continuing to suffer. In our distress on account of sin also, it is right to plead with him to interpose "at once," and to relieve us by forgiveness. In this respect we are not to be contented with delay; we are to cast ourselves upon his mercy, and to plead for immediate pardon, for as it is our only safety, so it is for the honor of God that we should be forgiven, and that we should not continue in a state of guilt. An afflicted child of God will be safe in the final issue, whether he is relieved at once, or whether he is suddenly cut off by death, or whether he continues to suffer for even many years; but an unpardoned sinner is "not" safe for a moment, and if he should be cut off, unforgiven, even when under the deepest conviction for sin, he would perish. Every consideration, therefore, makes it proper that he should plead for forgiveness at once, and ask that God would not "delay" to show him mercy.
18Draw nigh unto my soul, and redeem it: deliver me because of mine enemies.
Draw nigh unto my soul - To me - for my life is in danger.
And redeem it - Ransom it; save it from ruin. See the notes at Isaiah 43:3; notes at Isaiah 44:22.
Deliver me, because of mine enemies - Because they are so numerous, so powerful, and so determined on my destruction. Compare Psalm 13:4.
19Thou hast known my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonour: mine adversaries are all before thee.
Thou hast known my reproach - The reproach that has come upon me; the shame and contempt which I am called to endure. God had seen all this; and the psalmist appeals to him as having seen it, as a reason why he should now interpose and save him.
And my shame, and my dishonor - These are different words to express the same idea. They are accumulated here to denote the "greatness" of his distress. In other words, shame and reproach bad come upon him in every possible form.
Mine adversaries are all before thee - All who persecute and oppose me are constantly in thine eye. Thou knowest who they are; thou seest all that they do. Nothing in their conduct is concealed from thee. God, therefore, could take an accurate view of his troubles, and could see all the reasons which existed for interfering in his behalf.
20Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.
Reproach hath broken my heart - The reproaches, the calumnies, the aspersions, the slanders of others, have crushed me. I am not able to bear up under them; I fail under the burden. Distress may become so great that life may sink under it, for many die of what is called "a broken heart." Undeserved reproaches will be as likely to produce this result on a sensitive heart as any form of suffering; and there are thousands who are crushed to the earth by such reproaches.
And I am full of heaviness - Or, I am sick; I am weak; I am ill at ease. My strength is gone.
And I looked for some to take pity - Margin, "to lament with me." The meaning of the Hebrew word is to pity; to commiserate; to show compassion. Job 2:11; Job 42:11; Isaiah 51:19; Jeremiah 16:5.
But there was none - There was no one whose heart seemed to be touched with compassion in the case; none who sympathized with me.
And for comforters - For those who would show sympathy for me; who would evince a friendly feeling in my distress.
But I found none - He felt that he was utterly forsaken by mankind. There is no feeling of desolation like that.
21They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
They gave me also - My enemies; all persons around me. No one would show me even so much kindness as to give me food when I was hungry, or drink when I was thirsty. They utterly forsook me; they left me to die unpitied. Nay, they did more than this. When I was perishing with hunger, they not only refused to give me wholesome food, but they mocked my sufferings by giving me a bitter and poisonous herb for food, and vinegar for my drink.
Gall for my meat - For my food. Or, they gave me this "instead" of wholesome food. The word here rendered "gall" - ראשׁ rô'sh - is the same "in form" which is commonly rendered "head," and occurs in this sense very often in the Scriptures. It is also used to denote a "poisonous plant," perhaps from the idea that the plant referred to was distinguished for, or remarkable for its "head" - as the poppy; and "then" the name may have been given also to some other similar plants. The word then comes to denote poison; venom; anything poisonous; and then, anything very bad-tasted; "bitter." It is rendered "gall," as here, in Deuteronomy 29:18; Jeremiah 8:14; Jeremiah 9:15; Jeremiah 23:15; Lamentations 3:5, Lamentations 3:19; Amos 6:12; "venom" in Deuteronomy 32:33; "poison," in Job 20:16; and "hemlock," in Hosea 10:4. In Deuteronomy 29:18, it is rendered, in the margin, "rosh," or "a poisonful herb." It does not occur elsewhere with any such signification. It may not be possible to determine precisely what is denoted here by the word, but it undoubtedly refers to some poisonous, bitter, deadly, stupefying substance given to a sufferer, "instead" of that which would be wholesome food, or suited to sustain life.
And in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink - Instead of giving me pure water, they gave me sour wine - vinegar - that which would not slake my thirst, or which would not answer the purpose of drink. The form of trial here referred to is that where one is dying of thirst, and where, instead of giving water to assuage the thirst, one should give, in mockery, that which could not be drunk, or which would answer none of the purposes required. The word translated "vinegar" - חמץ chômets - is rendered in the ancient versions "sour grapes," but the proper signification here seems to be vinegar - the usual meaning of the word. What is here stated to have been done to David was also done to the dying Saviour, though without any intimation that the passage here had an original reference to him - or that what was done to him was intended to be a fulfillment of what is here said. See Matthew 27:34, Matthew 27:48; Mark 15:23; John 19:29. In the case of the Saviour, they first gave him vinegar mingled with myrrh - a usual custom in reference to those who were crucified - for the purpose of deadening the pain, or stupefying the sufferer. Matthew 27:34. At a subsequent part of the crucifixion they gave him vinegar, extended to him in a sponge affixed to a reed. Matthew 27:48; John 19:29. This was for a different purpose. It was to allay his thirst, and it seems (as the former may have been) to have been an act of kindness or compassion on the part of those who were appointed to crucify him. The former he refused to take, because he came to suffer; the latter he just tasted as he died. John 19:30. The "coincidence" in the cases of David and the Saviour was remarkable; but in the case of the Saviour no further use is made of what occurred to David than to employ the "language" which he employed to describe his own sufferings. The one was not, in any proper sense, a "type" of the other; nor does the language in the psalm refer to the Saviour.
22Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap.
Let their table become a snare before them - These verses are quoted by Paul Romans 11:9-10 as descriptive of the character of persons in his time, or as "language" which would express what he desired to say. See the passage explained at length in the notes at Romans 11:9-10. The whole passage is a prayer that they might receive a proper recompense for what they had done. The word "table" here means the table at which they were accustomed to eat. As they refused food to a hungry man, the prayer is, that they might find the recompense for their conduct "in that very line;" or that, as they refused food to the hungry, they might find "their" food a "snare" to them. That is, Let it be the means of punishing them for their not giving wholesome food to the hungry, or for their offering poisonous herbs to a starving man. The word "snare" here means unexpected danger; danger sprung suddenly upon them - as a snare is upon a wild beast.
And that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap - Much of this is supplied by the translators. The literal rendering would be, "And to those at peace (or secure) a trap." The word here rendered "welfare" is the plural form of the word meaning "peace," and may denote those who feel that they are at peace; that they are secure; that they are in no danger. The ancient versions give it the sense of "requitals," that is, a recompence for their transgressions; but the other signification best accords with the connection. The word "trap" is usually applied to the devices for capturing wild beasts, and the meaning is, "Let the recompence come suddenly upon them, while they think themselves at peace, or when they are surrounded by all the comforts and luxuries of life." This prayer is such as occurs frequently in the Psalms. It cannot be "proved" that it was uttered in a malignant spirit, or that anything more is intended by it than that the psalmist desired that justice might be done to all people - an object which all magistrates, and all good citizens, should pray for.
23Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not; and make their loins continually to shake.
Let their eyes be darkened ... - See the notes at Romans 11:10.
And make their loins continually to shake - As under a heavy burden. The apostle Romans 11:10 varies the language, but retains the idea: "and bow down their back alway."
24Pour out thine indignation upon them, and let thy wrathful anger take hold of them.
Pour out thine indignation upon them - That is, Punish them for their sins; or, do justice to them.
And let thy wrathful anger - literally, "the burning of thy wrath;" glow of anger; burning wrath. See Numbers 25:4; Numbers 32:14, 1 Samuel 28:18. This is undoubtedly a petition that God would visit them with the severity of his indignation; or, it expresses the belief of the psalmist that they "deserved" such tokens of his displeasure.
Take hold of them - Seize upon them; overtake them when they expect to escape.
25Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents.
Let their habitation be desolate - Margin, "their palace." The Hebrew word means properly a wall; then, a fortress or castle; and then it means also a nomadic encampment, a rustic village, a farm-hamlet. The word conveys the idea of an "enclosure," with special reference to an encampment, or a collection of tents. The Septuagint renders it here ἔπαυλις epaulis, meaning a place to pass the night in, especially for flocks and herds. The Hebrew word - טירה ṭı̂yrâh - is rendered "castles" in Genesis 25:16; Numbers 31:10; 1 Chronicles 6:54; "palaces" in Sol 8:9; Ezekiel 25:4; "rows" in Ezekiel 46:23; and "habitation" in this place. It does not occur elsewhere. Here it means their "home," - their place of abode, - but with no particular reference to the "kind" of home, whether a palace, a castle, or an encampment. The idea is, that the place which they had occupied, or where they had dwelt, would be made vacant. They would be removed, and the place would be solitary and forsaken. It is equivalent to a prayer that they might be destroyed.
And let none dwell in their tents - Margin, as in Hebrew, "let there not be a dweller." That is, Let their tents where they had dwelt be wholly forsaken. This passage is quoted in Acts 1:20, as applicable to Judas. See the notes at that passage.
26For they persecute him whom thou hast smitten; and they talk to the grief of those whom thou hast wounded.
For they persecute him whom thou hast smitten - That is, instead of pitying one who is afflicted of God, or showing compassion for him, they "add" to his sorrows by their own persecutions. The psalmist was suffering as under the hand of God. He needed sympathy from others in his trials. Instead of that, however, he found only reproaches, opposition, persecution, calumny. There was an entire want of sympathy and kindness. There was a disposition to take advantage of the fact that he was suffering at the hand of God, to increase his sorrows in all ways in which they could do it.
And they talk to the grief of those - What they say adds to their sorrow. They speak of the character of those who are afflicted; they allege that the affliction is the punishment of some crime which they have committed; they take advantage of any expressions of impatience which they may let fall in their affliction to charge them with being of a rebellious spirit, or regard it as proof that they are destitute of all true piety. See the notes at Psalm 41:5-8. It was this which added so much to the affliction of Job. His professed friends, instead of sympathizing with him, endeavored to prove that the fact that he suffered so much at the hand of God demonstrated that he was a hypocrite; and the expressions of impatience which he uttered in his trial, instead of leading them to sympathize with him, only tended to confirm them in this belief.
Whom thou hast wounded - literally, as in the margin, "thy wounded." That is, of those whom "thou" hast afflicted. The reference is to the psalmist himself as afflicted by God, while, at the same time, he makes the remark general by saying that this was their character; this was what they were accustomed to do.
27Add iniquity unto their iniquity: and let them not come into thy righteousness.
Add iniquity unto their iniquity - Margin, "punishment of iniquity." The literal rendering is, "Give iniquity upon their iniquity." Luther understands this as a prayer that "sin may be made a punishment for sin;" that is, that they may, as a punishment for their former sins, be left to commit still more aggravated crimes, and thus draw on themselves severer punishment. So Rosenmuller renders it, "Suffer them to accumulate sins by rushing from one sin to another, until their crimes are matured, and their destined punishment comes upon them." An idea similar to this occurs in Romans 1:28, where God is represented as having "given the pagan over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient" fit, or proper - "because they did not like to retain him in their knowledge." Perhaps this is the most natural interpretation here, though another has been suggested which the original will bear. According to that, there is an allusion here to the double sense of the equivocal term rendered "iniquity" - עון ‛âvôn - which properly denotes sin as such, or in itself considered, but which sometimes seems to denote sin in its consequences or effects. This latter is the interpretation adopted by Prof. Alexander. Thus understood, it is a prayer that God would add, or give, to their sin that which sin deserved; or, in other words, that he would punish it "as" it deserved.
And let them not come into thy righteousness - Let them not be treated "as" righteous; as those who are regarded by "thee" as righteous. Let them be treated as they deserve. This is the same as praying that a murderer may not be treated as an innocent man; a burglar, as if he were a man of peace; or a dishonest man, as if he were honest. Let people be regarded and treated as they "are in fact;" or, as they deserve to be treated. It seems difficult to see why this prayer may not be offered with propriety, and with a benevolent heart - for to bring this about is what all officers of justice are endeavoring to accomplish.
28Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.
Let them be blotted out of the book of the living - That is, Let them cease to live; let them not be numbered among living people; let them be cut off. This language is taken from the custom of registering the names of persons in a list, roll, or catalogue, Exodus 32:32. See the notes at Philippians 4:3. Compare Revelation 3:5. The language has no reference to the future world; it is "not" a prayer that they should not be saved.
And not be written with the righteous - Let them not be registered or numbered with the righteous. As they "are" wicked, so let them be numbered; so regarded. Let them be reckoned and treated as they are. They deserve to be punished; so let them be. All that this "necessarily" means is, that they should not be treated as righteous, when they were in fact "not" righteous. It cannot be shown that the author of the psalm would not have desired that they should "become" righteous, and that they should "then" be regarded and treated as such. All that the language here implies is, a desire that they should be regarded and treated as they were; that is, as they deserved. The language is evidently derived from the idea so common in the Old Testament that length of days would be the reward of a righteous life (see Job 5:26; Proverbs 3:2; Proverbs 9:11; Proverbs 10:27), and that the wicked would be cut off in the midst of their days. See the notes at Psalm 55:23.
29But I am poor and sorrowful: let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high.
But I am poor and sorrowful - I am afflicted and suffering. The word here rendered "poor" often means "afflicted."
Let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high - Let thy help raise me up from my low condition, and exalt me to a place of safety.
30I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.
I will praise the name of God with a song - As the result of my deliverance, I will "compose" a song or a psalm especially adapted to the occasion, and suited to express and perpetuate my feelings. It was in such circumstances that a large part of the psalms were composed; and since others besides the psalmist are often in such circumstances, the Book of Psalms becomes permanently useful in the church. It is not always necessary now to "compose" a song or hymn to express our feelings in the circumstances in which we are placed in life - for we may commonly find such sacred songs ready at our hand; yet no one can doubt the propriety of adding to the number of such by those who can do it, or of increasing the compositions for praise in the church in view of the ever-varied experience of the children of God.
And will magnify him - Will exalt his name; will endeavor to make it "seem" greater; or, will spread it further abroad.
With thanksgiving - I will use expressions of thanks to make his name more widely known.
31This also shall please the LORD better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs.
This also shall please the Lord - This will be more acceptable to the Lord.
Better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs - Better than a burnt sacrifice - horns, and hoofs, and all. The original here is, "horning and hoofing;" that is, an ox whose horns were fully grown, and whose hoofs were compact and solid; a perfect animal in its kind, offered whole on the altar. The psalmist does not say that such an offering would "not" be acceptable to the Lord, but that the offering of the heart - the sacrifice of praise - would be "more" acceptable than any such offering in itself considered. This sentiment accords with the common language of the Old Testament. See the notes at Psalm 40:6-8. Compare Psalm 51:16-17; 1 Samuel 15:22.
32The humble shall see this, and be glad: and your heart shall live that seek God.
The humble shall see this, and be glad - Margin, "The meek." That is, Others who are thus afflicted - the poor, the needy, the oppressed, the sad - shall be made acquainted with what has been done in my behalf, and shall take courage, or be strengthened. They will learn to trust that God will also interpose in "their" troubles, and bring them out of "their" distresses.
And your heart shall live that seek God - Shall be revived; shall be encouraged, strengthened, animated.
33For the LORD heareth the poor, and despiseth not his prisoners.
For the Lord heareth the poor - The needy; the humble; the unprotected. The reference is to those who are in circumstances of want and distress. The truth stated here is in accordance with all that is said in the Scriptures. Compare the notes at Psalm 34:6. See also Job 5:15; Psalm 10:14; Psalm 12:5; Psalm 35:10; Psalm 68:10.
And despiseth not his prisoners - He does not overlook them; he does not treat them as if they were worthy of no attention or regard. The word "prisoners" here may refer to those who are, as it were, bound by affliction under his own providential dealings; or to those who are oppressed, or are held as captives, or are thrown into prison, on his account. The particular reference here seems to be to David, and to those associated with him, who were straitened or deprived of their freedom in the cause of God.
34Let the heaven and earth praise him, the seas, and every thing that moveth therein.
Let the heaven and earth praise him - All things; all above and all below.
The seas - The waters - the oceans. This is in accordance with what often occurs in the Scriptures, when all things, animate and inanimate, are called on to praise God. Compare Psalm 148:1-14.
And everything that moveth therein - Margin, as in Hebrew, "creepeth." Compare the notes at Psalm 8:8. See also the notes at Isaiah 55:12.
35For God will save Zion, and will build the cities of Judah: that they may dwell there, and have it in possession.
For God will save Zion - See the notes at Psalm 51:18. That is, he will save his people; he will protect and defend them. This expresses the confident assurance of the psalmist that, whatever might be the existing troubles, God would not forsake his people, but would interpose in their behalf.
And will build the cities of Judah - Though they may now lie waste, or be desolate. See the notes at Psalm 51:18. The general idea here is, that God would be favorable to his land; that he would give success and prosperity to his people; that he would manifest his mercy to them. There is no necessity from the language used here to suppose, as DeWette and Rosenmuller do, that there is an allusion to the time of the exile, and to the restoration of the Jews from Babylon, and that consequently either the whole psalm must have been composed at that time - or (as Rosenmuller supposes) that the last verses of the psalm were added by a later hand, and that thus the whole psalm was adapted to the time of the exile. From Psalm 69:9 it would seem that, when the psalm was composed, the place of public worship was still standing, and the language here, as in Psalm 51:18, is so general that it might have been employed at any time.
That they may dwell there ... - That his people may dwell there according to the ancient promise. The idea is, that he would be the protector of his people, and that all his promises to them would be fulfilled.
36The seed also of his servants shall inherit it: and they that love his name shall dwell therein.
The seed also of his servants - The children or the descendants of his people.
Shall inherit it - Shall continue to dwell in it.
And they that love his name - They that love him; they that are his true friends.
Shall dwell therein - They shall be safe there; they shall find there a home. This indicates the confident belief of the author of the psalm that the favor of God would be shown to the land. Whatever might be the present troubles, his faith was unwavering - his confidence unshaken - in regard to the faithfulness of God. Palestine - the promised land - would still be the inheritance of those who loved God, and the interests of those who dwelt there would be secure. As applied to the church of God now, the idea is, that it is safe; that it will always be under the divine protection; and that it will be the loved and the secure abode of all that "love the name" of their God and Saviour.