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Psalm 69:6-9

6. O Jehovah, Lord of Hosts! let not them that wait for thee be ashamed in me: let not them who seek thee be put to shame in me, O God of Israel! 7. For on thy account I have suffered reproach: shame hath covered my face. 8. I have been a stranger to my brethren, and am become an alien to the children of my mother. 7373     In the East, where polygamy prevails, those who are children of the same father, but by different mothers, scarcely look upon each other as brothers and sisters at all, but as strangers or enemies; while those who are children of the same mother regard each other with peculiarly strong affection. Hence said Gibeon to Zebah and Zalmunna, who had put to death his brethren, “They were my brethren, even the sons of my mother; as the Lord liveth, if ye had saved them alive, I would not slay you,” (Judges 8:19.) It therefore greatly aggravated the affliction of David that he had “become an alien to the children of his mother,” from whom he might have expected affection and sympathy, however much he might have been disregarded by his brethren, who were the children of his father’s other wives. See volume 2, p. 277, note 3. 9. For the zeal of thy house hath eaten me up; and the reproach of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.

 

6 O Jehovah, Lord of Hosts! let not them that wait for thee be ashamed in me. David declares that he is set forth as an example from which all the people of God may derive matter either of hope or despair. Although he was held in detestation and execrated by the great body of the people, there yet remained a few who were ready to bear just and impartial testimony to his innocence; knowing as they did that he was unrighteously afflicted by his persecutors, that he constantly reposed on the grace and goodness of God, and that no temptations could discourage or prevent him from continuing steadfast in the practice of true godliness. But when they observed the distresses and calamities to which he was notwithstanding subjected, the only conclusion to which they were able to arrive was, that all the pains and labor which he had taken in devoutly serving God were entirely thrown away. As all the instances in which God extends his succor to his servants are so many seals, by which he confirms and gives us assurance of his goodness and grace towards us, the faithful must have been exceedingly discouraged had David been forsaken in the extremity of his distress. The danger of their being thus discouraged he now lays before God; not that God has ever need of being put in mind of any thing, but because he allows us to deal familiarly with him at the throne of grace. The word wait is properly to be understood of hope, and the expression to seek God, of prayer. The connecting of the two together teaches us the profitable lesson, that faith is not all inactive principle, since it is the means of stirring us up to seek God.

7 For on thy account I have suffered reproach He now expresses more distinctly what he had stated ironically in the fifth verse, where he asserts that his faults were not hidden from God. Nay, he proceeds farther, declaring not only that the evil treatment which he met with from his enemies was unjust and altogether unmerited, but also that his cause was really God’s cause, since whatever he had undertaken and engaged in was expressly in obedience to the command of God. Saul no doubt had other reasons, or at least other pretences, for persecuting David; but as the hatred which he entertained against him most unquestionably proceeded from God’s having called and anointed him to be king, David here justly protests that it was not for any wickedness which he had committed, but because he had obeyed God, that men in general disapproved of and rashly condemned him. It is a source of great consolation to true believers when they can protest that they have the warrant and call of God for whatever they undertake or engage in. If we are hated by the world for making a public confession of the faith, a thing which we are to expect, it being evident from observation that the wicked ordinarily are never more fierce than when they assault the truth of God and the true religion, we have ground to entertain double confidence. 7474     That is, the confidence arising from the reflection that we are, in the first place, suffering unjustly; and, secondly, that we are suffering in the cause of God. We also learn from this passage how monstrous is the malice of men, who convert into a ground for reproach and reprehension the zeal for the Divine glory by which true believers are animated. 7575     “Qui convertissent en diffame et blasme le desir que les fideles ont de sa gloire.” — Fr. But it is well for us that God not only wipes away the reproaches with which the wicked load us, but also so ennobles them, that they surpass all the honors and triumphs of the world. The Psalmist farther aggravates his complaint by the additional circumstance, that he was cruelly cast off by his own relations and friends; from which we are taught, that when by our devotedness to the cause of religion we cannot avoid exciting the displeasure of our brethren against us, it is our duty simply to follow God, and not to confer with flesh and blood.

9 For the zeal of thy house hath eaten me up 7676     The verb means not only ‘to eat up, to devour,’ but ‘to corrode or consume,’ by separating the parts from each other, as fire, (see Parkhurst on אכל 2;) and the radical import of the Hebrew word for ‘zeal,’ seems to be ‘to eat into, corrode, as fire.’ The word (says Parkhurst) is, in the Hebrew Bible, generally applied to the fervent or ardent affections of the human frame, the effects of which are well known to be even like those of fire, corroding and consuming; and, accordingly, the poets, both ancient and modern, abound with descriptions of these ardent and consuming affections, taken from fire and its effects. (See on קנא.)” — Mant David’s enemies, no doubt, professed that nothing was farther from their mind than to touch the sacred name of God; but he reproves their hypocritical pretences, and affirms that he is fighting in God’s quarrel. The manner in which he did this, he shows, was by the zeal for the Church of God with which his soul was inflamed. He not only assigns the cause of the evil treatment which he received — his zeal for the house of God — but also declares that whatever evil treatment he was undeservedly made the object of, yet, as it were, forgetting himself, he burned with a holy zeal to maintain the Church, and at the same time the glory of God, with which it is inseparably connected. To make this the more obvious, let it be observed, that although all boast in words of allowing to God the glory which belongs to him; yet when the law, the rule of virtuous and holy living, presents its claims to them, men only mock him, and not only so, but they furiously rush against him by the opposition which they make to his Word. They do this as if he willed to be honored and served merely with the breath of the lip, and had not rather erected a throne among men, from which to govern them by laws. David, therefore, here places the Church in the room of God; not that it was his intention to transfer to the Church what is proper to God, but to show the vanity of the pretensions which men make of being the people of God, when they shake themselves loose from the control of God’s holy law, of which the Church is the faithful guardian. Besides, David had to deal with a class of men who, although a hypocritical and bastard race, professed to be the people of God; for all who adhered to Saul boasted of having a place in the Church, and stigmatised David as an apostate or a rotten member. With this unworthy treatment David was so far from being discouraged, that he willingly sustained all assaults for the defense of the true Church. He declares that he is unmoved by all the wrongs and revilings which he personally suffered at the hands of his enemies. Laying aside all concern about himself, he is disquieted and distressed only for the oppressed condition of the Church, or rather burns with anguish, and is consumed with the vehemence of his grief.

The second clause of the verse is to the same effect, denoting that he has nothing separate from God. Some explain it in a different sense, understanding it to mean that the wicked and proud, with the view of making an assault upon David, directed their fury and violence against God himself, and in this way indirectly pierced the heart of this holy man with their blasphemies, knowing as they did that nothing would be more grievous to him to bear than this. But this interpretation is too forced. Equally forced is that of those who consider David as intimating that he did not less prostrate himself in humble supplication at the mercy-seat whenever he heard the name of God torn by reproaches and blasphemy, than if he himself had been guilty of treason against the Divine Majesty. I therefore adhere to the opinion which I have already expressed, That David forgot what concerned himself, and that all the grief which he felt proceeded from the holy zeal with which he burned when he saw the sacred name of God insulted and outraged with horrible blasphemies. By this example we are taught, that whereas we are naturally so tender and delicate as to be unable to bear ignominy and reproach, we must endeavor to get quit of this unhappy state of mind, and ought rather to be grieved and agonised with the reproaches which are poured forth against God. On account of these, it becomes us to feel deep indignation, and even to give expression to this in strong language; but we ought to bear the wrongs and reproaches which we personally suffer without complaining. Until we have learned to set very little value upon our own reputation, we will never be inflamed with true zeal in contending for the preservation and advancement of the interests of the Divine glory. Besides, as David speaks in the name of the whole Church, whatever he says concerning himself behoved to be fulfilled in the supreme Head. It is, therefore, not surprising to find the Evangelists applying this passage to Christ, (John 2:17.) In like manner, Paul, in Romans 15:3, 5, 6, exhorting the faithful to imitate Christ, applies the second member to them all, and there also teaches us that the doctrine contained in it is very comprehensive, requiring them to devote themselves wholly to the advancement of the Divine glory, to endeavor in all their words and actions to preserve it unimpaired, and to be carefully on their guard that it may not be obscured by any fault of theirs. Since Christ, in whom there shines forth all the majesty of Deity, did not hesitate to expose himself to every species of reproach for the maintenance of his Father’s glory, how base and shameful will it be for us to shrink from a similar lot.


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