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Psalm 71:5-8

5. For thou art my expectation, [or hope,] O Lord Jehovah! My trust from my youth. 6. Upon thee have I leaned [or have I been sustained] from the womb: 103103     “Des le ventre de ma mere.” — Fr “From the womb of my mother.” thou art he that took me out of my mother’s bowels: my praise is continually of thee. 7. I have been as a prodigy to the great ones, 104104     “Ou, a plusieurs.” — Fr marg “Or, to many.” and yet 105105     “Et toutesfois.” — Fr thou art my strong confidence. 8. My mouth shall be filled with thy praise and with thy glory daily.

 

5. For thou art my expectation, O Lord Jehovah! The Psalmist here repeats what he had said a little before concerning his trust or confidence. But some, perhaps, may be inclined to refer this sentence rather to the matter or ground afforded him for hope and confidence than to the emotions of his heart; supposing him to mean, that by the benefits which God had conferred upon him, he was furnished with well-grounded hope. And certainly he does not here simply declare that he hoped in God, but with this he conjoins experience, and acknowledges that even from his youth he had received tokens of the Divine favor, from which he might learn, that confidence is to be reposed in God alone. By adverting to what God had done for him, 106106     In the Latin version it is, “Ab affectu ipso;” which is probably a mistake for “Ab effecto ipso.” In the French version it is, “Par l’effet mesme.” he expresses the real cause of faith, (if I may so speak;) and from this we may easily perceive the powerful influence which the remembrance of God’s benefits had in nourishing his hope.

6. Upon thee have I been sustained from the womb. This verse corresponds with the preceding, except that David proceeds farther. He not only celebrates the goodness of God which he had experienced from his childhood, but also those proofs of it which he had received previous to his birth. An almost similar confession is contained in Psalm 22:9, 10, by which is magnified the wonderful power and inestimable goodness of God in the generation of men, the way and manner of which would be altogether incredible, were it not a fact with which we are quite familiar. If we are astonished at that part of the history of the flood, in which Moses declares (Genesis 8:13) that Noah and his household lived ten months amidst the offensive nuisance produced by so many living creatures, when he could not draw the breath of life, have we not equal reason to marvel that the infant, shut up within its mother’s womb, can live in such a condition as would suffocate the strongest man in half an hour? But we thus see how little account we make of the miracles which God works, in consequence of our familiarity with them. The Spirit, therefore, justly rebukes this ingratitude, by commending to our consideration this memorable instance of the grace of God, which is exhibited in our birth and generation. When we are born into the world, although the mother do her office, and the midwife may be present with her, and many others may lend their help, yet did not God, putting, so to speak, his hand under us, receive us into his bosom, what would become of us? and what hope would there be of the continuance of our life? Yea, rather, were it not for this, our very birth would be an entrance into a thousand deaths. God, therefore, is with the highest propriety said to take us out of our mother’s bowels To this corresponds the concluding part of the verse, My praise is continually of thee; by which the Psalmist means that he had been furnished with matter for praising God without intermission.

7. I have been as a prodigy to the great ones. He now makes a transition to the language of complaint, declaring that he was held in almost universal abhorrence by reason of the great calamities with which he was afflicted. There is an apparent, although only an apparent, discrepancy between these two statements; first, that he had always been crowned with the benefits of God; and, secondly, that he was accounted as a prodigy on account of his great afflictions; but we may draw from thence the very profitable doctrine, that he was not so overwhelmed by his calamities, heavy though they were, as to be insensible to the goodness of God which he had experienced. Although, therefore, he saw that he was an object of detestation, yet the remembrance of the blessings which God had conferred upon him, could not be extinguished by the deepest shades of darkness which surrounded him, but served as a lamp in his heart to direct his faith. By the term prodigy 107107     Green reads, “I am become a gazing-stock to the multitude.” Horsley, “‘I am become a prodigious sight to the many.’ A prodigious sight, ‘a sign which shall be spoken against,’ Luke 2:34.” “‘I am become, as it were, a portentous sign unto many.’ Many are willing to persuade themselves that my trials proceed directly from God’s wrath, and are intended to warn them against pursuing a like course of conduct.” — French and SkinnerA monster, i e., the supposed object of God’s signal displeasure. Comp. Isaiah 20:3; Ezekiel 12:6; 24:24, 27.” — Cresswell But others suppose that כמופת, hemopheth, as a prodigy, implies that the great and many dangers to which he had been exposed, and the extraordinary deliverances from them which he had experienced, marked him out as an object of wonder, so that men looked upon him as if he were exempted from the common lot of mankind, as if he possessed a charmed life, and were invulnerable to all assaults; and the second member of the verse has been viewed as the reason why he was so regarded: “for thou art my strong refuge.” is expressed no ordinary calamity. Had he not been afflicted in a strange and unusual manner, those to whom the miserable condition of mankind was not unknown would not have shrunk from him with such horror, and regarded him as so repulsive a spectacle. It was, therefore, a higher and more commendable proof of his constancy, that his spirit was neither broken nor enfeebled with sham but reposed in God with the stronger confidence, the more he was cast off by the world. The sentence is to be explained adversatively, implying that, although men abhorred him as a monster, yet, by leaning upon God, he continued in despite of all this unmoved. If it should be thought preferable to translate the word רבים, rabbim, which I have rendered great ones, by the word many, the sense will be, That David’s afflictions were generally known, and had acquired great notoriety, as if he had been brought forth upon a stage and exposed to the view of the whole people. But in my opinion it will be more suitable to understand the word of great men, or the nobles. There is no heart so strong and impervious to outward influences as not to be deeply pierced when those who are considered to excel in wisdom and judgment, and who are invested with authority, treat a suffering and an afflicted man with such indignity, that they shrink with horror from him, as if he were a monster. In the next verse, as if he had obtained the desire of his heart, he expresses it to be his resolution to yield a grateful acknowledgement to God. To encourage himself to hope with the greater confidence for a happy issue to his present troubles, he promises loudly to celebrate the praises of God, and to do this not only on one occasion, but to persevere in the exercise without intermission.


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