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In the Shadow of Your Wings

A Prayer of David.

1Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry!
Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit!
2From your presence let my vindication come!
Let your eyes behold the right!

3You have tried my heart, you have visited me by night,
you have tested me, and you will find nothing;
I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.
4With regard to the works of man, by the word of your lips
I have avoided the ways of the violent.
5My steps have held fast to your paths;
my feet have not slipped.

6I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my words.
7Wondrously show11Or Distinguish me by your steadfast love,
O Savior of those who seek refuge
from their adversaries at your right hand.

8Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings,
9from the wicked who do me violence,
my deadly enemies who surround me.

10They close their hearts to pity;
with their mouths they speak arrogantly.
11They have now surrounded our steps;
they set their eyes to cast us to the ground.
12He is like a lion eager to tear,
as a young lion lurking in ambush.

13Arise, O Lord! Confront him, subdue him!
Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword,
14from men by your hand, O Lord,
from men of the world whose portion is in this life.22Or from men whose portion in life is of the world
You fill their womb with treasure;33Or As for your treasured ones, you fill their womb
they are satisfied with children,
and they leave their abundance to their infants.

15As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.


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11. They have now compassed me round about in our steps. The Psalmist confirms what he has said before concerning the furious passion for doing mischief with which his enemies were inflamed. He says they were so cruelly bent on accomplishing his destruction, that in whatever way he directed or altered his course, they ceased not to follow close upon him. When he says our steps, he doubtless comprehends his own companions, although he immediately after returns to speak of himself alone; unless, perhaps, another reading is preferred, for some copies have סבבונו, sebabunu, They have compassed us, in the plural number. This, however, is not a matter of great importance. David simply complains, that unless God stretch forth his hand from heaven to deliver him, there now remains for him no way of escape, seeing his enemies, whenever he stirs his foot to avoid their fury, immediately pursue him, and watch all his steps. By the adverb now, he intimates not only that he is at present in very great danger, but also that at every moment his enemies, in whatever way he turns himself, pursue and press hard upon him. In the last clause, They have fixed their eyes to cast down to the ground, some consider David as comparing his enemies to hunters, who, with eyes fixed on the ground, are silently looking with eager desire for their prey. They, therefore, think that by the eyes fixed on the ground is denoted the gesture or attitude of David’s adversaries, and certainly crafty and malicious men have their countenance often fixed on the ground. According to others, whose opinion is nearer the spirit of the passage, this form of expression signifies the continual and unwearied ardor by which the ungodly are impelled to turn all things upside down. To fix their eyes, therefore, is nothing else than to apply all their ingenuity, and put forth all their efforts. What follows, to cast down to the ground, is the same thing as to overthrow. The ungodly, as if they must necessarily fall, should the world continue to stand, would wish all mankind thrown down or destroyed, and, therefore, they exert themselves to the utmost to bring down and ruin all men. This is explained more fully by the figurative illustration introduced in the following verse, where they are said to be like lions and lions’ whelps 367367     In the French version it is lionceaux, young lions. French and Skinner read “like a lion,” and “like a young lion;’ and observe, “The word translated ‘young lion’ signifies a lion in the rigour of youth, and fully capable of pursuing his prey.” But we ought always to keep this truth in remembrance, that the more proudly wicked men exercise their cruelty against us, the hand of God is so much the nearer to us to oppose itself to their savage fury; for to him alone belongs the praise of subduing and restraining these wild beasts who delight in shedding blood. David speaks of dens, or secret lurking places, because his enemies were deeply skilled in artful stratagem, and had various methods of doing mischief, while they had also at hand the power and means of executing them, so that it was difficult to resist them.




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