World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
Save Me, O God
To the choirmaster: according to Lilies. Of David.
1Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.11Or waters threaten my life
2I sink in deep mire,
where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
and the flood sweeps over me.
3I am weary with my crying out;
my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
with waiting for my God.
4More in number than the hairs of my head
are those who hate me without cause;
mighty are those who would destroy me,
those who attack me with lies.
What I did not steal
must I now restore?
5O God, you know my folly;
the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.
6Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me,
O Lord God of hosts;
let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me,
O God of Israel.
7For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach,
that dishonor has covered my face.
8I have become a stranger to my brothers,
an alien to my mother's sons.
9For zeal for your house has consumed me,
and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me.
10When I wept and humbled22Hebrew lacks and humbled my soul with fasting,
it became my reproach.
11When I made sackcloth my clothing,
I became a byword to them.
12I am the talk of those who sit in the gate,
and the drunkards make songs about me.
13But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord.
At an acceptable time, O God,
in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.
from sinking in the mire;
let me be delivered from my enemies
and from the deep waters.
15Let not the flood sweep over me,
or the deep swallow me up,
or the pit close its mouth over me.
16Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good;
according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
17Hide not your face from your servant;
for I am in distress; make haste to answer me.
18Draw near to my soul, redeem me;
ransom me because of my enemies!
19You know my reproach,
and my shame and my dishonor;
my foes are all known to you.
20Reproaches have broken my heart,
so that I am in despair.
I looked for pity, but there was none,
and for comforters, but I found none.
21They gave me poison for food,
and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.
22Let their own table before them become a snare;
and when they are at peace, let it become a trap.33Hebrew; a slight revocalization yields (compare Septuagint, Syriac, Jerome) a snare, and retribution and a trap
23Let their eyes be darkened, so that they cannot see,
and make their loins tremble continually.
24Pour out your indignation upon them,
and let your burning anger overtake them.
25May their camp be a desolation;
let no one dwell in their tents.
26For they persecute him whom you have struck down,
and they recount the pain of those you have wounded.
27Add to them punishment upon punishment;
may they have no acquittal from you.44Hebrew may they not come into your righteousness
28Let them be blotted out of the book of the living;
let them not be enrolled among the righteous.
29But I am afflicted and in pain;
let your salvation, O God, set me on high!
30I will praise the name of God with a song;
I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
31This will please the Lord more than an ox
or a bull with horns and hoofs.
32When the humble see it they will be glad;
you who seek God, let your hearts revive.
33For the Lord hears the needy
and does not despise his own people who are prisoners.
34Let heaven and earth praise him,
the seas and everything that moves in them.
35For God will save Zion
and build up the cities of Judah,
and people shall dwell there and possess it;
36the offspring of his servants shall inherit it,
and those who love his name shall dwell in it.
19 Thou knowest my reproach, and my confusion. This is a confirmation of the preceding sentence. Whence is it that the greater part of men become dispirited when they see the wicked outrageously rushing upon them, and their wickedness, like a water-flood, carrying all before it, but because they think that heaven is so obscured and overcast with clouds as to prevent God from beholding what is done upon the earth? It becomes us, therefore, in this matter, to call to our remembrance the doctrine of a Divine Providence, that contemplating it we may be assured beyond all doubt, that God will appear for our succor in due season; for he cannot, on the one hand, shut his eyes to our miseries, and it is impossible for him, on the other, to allow the license which the wicked take in doing evil to pass with impunity, without denying himself. David, therefore, takes comfort from the consideration that God is the witness of his grief, fear, sorrows, and cares; nothing being hidden from the eye of Him who is the judge and governor of the world. Nor is it a vain repetition when he speaks so frequently of his reproach and shame. As he was subjected to such dreadful assaults of temptations as might have made the stoutest heart to tremble, it was indispensably necessary for his own defense to oppose to them a strong barrier for resistance. Nothing is more bitter to men of an ingenuous and noble spirit than reproach; but when this is repeated, or rather when shame and reproach are heaped upon us, how needful is it then for us to possess more than ordinary strength, that we may not thereby be overwhelmed? for when succor is delayed, our patience is very apt to give way, and despair very easily creeps in upon us. This shame and reproach may very properly be referred both to the outward appearance and to the actual feelings of the mind. It is well known that he was everywhere held in open derision; and the mockeries which he experienced could not but strike into him both shame and sorrow. For the same reason he subjoins that his enemies are before God, or known to him; as if he had said, Lord, thou knowest how, like a poor sheep, I am surrounded by thousands of wolves.
20. Reproach hath broken my heart, and I am afflicted. He expresses more distinctly not only that he was confounded, or ashamed at the sad aspect which he presented of having been deserted, but that he was well nigh overwhelmed with sorrow by lying so long under reproach and shame. Whence it is evident that he did not overcome this sorrow without a struggle; and that the reason why he so firmly withstood the waves of temptations was, not because they did not reach his heart, but because, being sorely smitten, he made resistance with a corresponding degree of intrepidity. He states, as an additional aggravation of his distress, that every office of humanity was withheld from him: that there was nobody who had compassion upon him, or to whom he could disburden his griefs. Some take the word נוד, nud, for to tell or recount; and undoubtedly when we pour out our complaints to our friends, it affords some alleviation to our distress. Thus he employs as an argument for obtaining mercy from God, the consideration that he was deprived of all aid and comfort from his fellow-men.
21. And they put gall into my meat. Here he again repeats that his enemies carry their cruelty towards him to the utmost extent in their power. He speaks metaphorically when he describes them as mingling gall or poison with his meat,
The word ראש, rosh, here denominated gall, is thought by Celsius, Michaelis, Boothroyd, and others, to be hemlock According to Dr Adam Clarke and Williams, it refers to bitters in general, and particularly those of a deleterious nature. Bochart, from a comparison of this passage with John 19:29, thinks that ראש, rosh, is the same herb as the Evangelist calls ὑσσωπος, “hyssop;” a species of which growing in Judea, he proves from Isaac Ben Orman, an Arabian writer, to be so bitter, as not to be eatable. Theophylact expressly tells us that
the hyssop was added as being deleterious or poisonous; and ‘Nonnus’ paraphrase is, “one gave the deadly acid mixed with hyssop.” See Parkhurst on ראש. The word occurs in Deuteronomy 29:18; 32:33; and is, in the latter place, rendered poison In Hosea 10:4, it is rendered hemlock; and in Amos 6:12, it is put in apposition with a word
there translated hemlock, although the same word is also rendered wormwood
Vinegar, we conceive, here means sour wine, such as was given to slaves or prisoners in the East. Persons in better circumstances used lemons or pomegranates to give their drink a grateful acidity. It was therefore a great insult offered to a royal personage to give him in his thirst the refreshment of a slave or of a wretched prisoner; and David employs this figure to express the insults which were offered to him by his enemies. See Harmer’s Observations, volume 2, pp. 158, 159. and vinegar with his drink; even as it is said in Jeremiah,
“Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood,
and give them water of gall to drink.” (Jeremiah 9:15)
But still the Apostle John justly declares that this Scripture was fulfilled when the soldiers gave Christ vinegar to drink upon the cross, (John 19:28-30;) for it was requisite that whatever cruelty the reprobate exercise towards the members of Christ, should by a visible sign be represented in Christ himself. We have stated on the same principle, in our remarks upon Psalm 22:18, that when the soldiers parted the garments of Christ among them, that verse was appropriately quoted, “They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots;” although David’s object was to express by figurative language that he was robbed, and that all his goods were violently taken from him, and made a prey of by his enemies. The natural sense must, however, be retained; which is, that the holy prophet had no relief afforded him; and that he was in a condition similar to that of a man who, already too much afflicted, found, as an additional aggravation of his distress, that his meat was poisoned, and his drink rendered nauseous by the bitter ingredients with which it had been mingled.
22. Let their table before them be for a snare. Here we have a series of dire imprecations, with respect to which we must bear in mind, what we have elsewhere observed, that David did not allow himself recklessly to pour out his wrath, even as the greater part of men, when they feel themselves wronged, intemperately give way to their own passion; but, being under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, he was kept from going beyond the bounds of duty, 8888 “Mais estant conduit par le Sainct Esprit, il n’a point passe outre les limites.” — Fr. and simply called upon God to exercise just judgment against the reprobate. Farther, it was not on his own account that he pleaded in this manner; but it was a holy zeal for the divine glory which impelled him to summon the wicked to God’s judgment-seat. It was also owing to this: that he was not carried away by violence of passion, like those who are actuated by a desire of taking revenge. Since, then, the Spirit of wisdom, uprightness, and moderation, put these imprecations into the mouth of David, his example cannot justly be pleaded in self-vindication by those who pour forth their wrath and spite upon every one that comes in their way, or who are carried away by a foolish impatience to take revenge; never allowing themselves to reflect for a moment what good purpose this can serve, nor making any efforts to keep their passion within due bounds. We need wisdom by which to distinguish between those who are wholly reprobate and those of whose amendment there is still some hope; we have also need of uprightness, that none may devote himself exclusively to his own private interests; and of moderation too, to dispose our minds to calm endurance. It being evident, then, that David was distinguished by these three qualities, whoever would follow him aright, must not allow himself to break forth with reckless and blind impetuosity into the language of imprecation; he must, moreover, repress the turbulent passions of his mind, and, instead of confining his thoughts exclusively to his own private interests, should rather employ his desires and affections in seeking to advance the glory of God. In short, if we would be true imitators of David, we must first clothe ourselves with the character of Christ, that he may not administer to us at the present day the same rebuke which he gave to two of his disciples of old,
“Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of,”
David had complained that his enemies mingled his meat with gall; and now he prays that their table may be turned into a snare for them, and that the things which are for peace may be turned into a net for them. These expressions are metaphorical, and they imply a desire that whatever things had been allotted to them in providence for the preservation of life, and for their welfare and convenience, might be turned by God into the occasion or instrument of their destruction. From this we gather that as things which naturally and of themselves are hurtful, become the means of furthering our welfare when we are in favor with God; so, when his anger is kindled against us, all those things which have a native tendency to produce our happiness are cursed, and become so many causes of our destruction. It is an instance of the Divine justice, which ought deeply to impress our minds with awe, when the Holy Spirit declares that all the means of preserving life are deadly to the reprobate, (Titus 1:15;) so that the very sun, which carries healing under his wings, (Malachi 4:2,) breathes only a deadly exhalation for them.
23. Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see. The Psalmist here refers chiefly to two powers of the body, those of the eyes and of the loins; and I have no hesitation in considering his language as a prayer that God would deprive his enemies of reason and understanding, and at the same time enfeeble their strength, that they might be altogether unfitted for exerting themselves in any way. We know how indispensable it is, in order to the doing of any thing aright, that counsel go before to give light, and that there should also be added the power of putting what is purposed into execution. The curse here expressed impends over the heads of all the enemies of the Church; and, therefore, we have no reason to be terrified at the malice or fury of the wicked. God, whenever he pleases, can strike them suddenly with blindness, that they may see nothing, and by breaking their loins, 8989 The loins are the seat of strength in every animal; and hence the prayer, “Make their loins continually to tremble,” is just a prayer that their strength might be impaired, or entirely taken away. lay them prostrate in shame and confusion.
24. Pour out thy fury upon them. It is not surprising that David utters a lengthened series of imprecations; for we know well that the frantic enemies of the Church, into whom it was his object to inspire terror, are not easily moved. He therefore lifts up his voice against them in tones of greater vehemence, that they might be led to desist from their wrongful and insolent conduct. He, however, had principally an eye to true believers, who, being oppressed with calamities, have no other stay to lean upon, but such as arises from the voice which they hear proceeding from the mouth of God, declaring the terrible vengeance which is prepared for their enemies, if, indeed, they are among the reprobate. As to those of whose repentance and amendment there was some hope, David would have had them to be corrected by chastisements; but as to those whose repentance and reformation were hopeless, he prays that destruction may fall upon their heads, that thus they might not escape the punishment which was appointed for them, and which they had deserved.
25 Let their habitation be desolate. Here he proceeds farther than in the preceding verse, praying that God would cause his wrath to descend to their posterity; and it is no new thing for the sins of the fathers to be cast into the bosom of the children. As David uttered these imprecations by the inspiration and influence of the Holy Spirit, so he took them out of the law itself, in which God threatens that he will
“visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate him,” (Exodus 20:5)
In this way he desires that the memorial of them may be cursed, and that thus God would not spare them even after their death.
26. For they have persecuted him whom thou hast smitten. He brings forward the crime with which they were chargeable, to make it manifest that they richly deserved such dreadful punishments. Some explain the verse in this way: “These enemies, O Lord! not content with the strokes which thou hast inflicted, have exercised their cruelty upon a wretched man, who had already been wounded by thy hand.” And as it is the dictate of humanity to succor the afflicted, he who treads down the oppressed most assuredly betrays the brutal cruelty of his disposition. Others reject this exposition, whether upon sufficient ground I know not, observing that David, properly speaking, was not stricken or wounded by the hand of God, it being of the violent rage of his enemies that he complains through the whole of the psalm. Accordingly, they have recourse to a subtle interpretation, and view David as meaning that his enemies wickedly pretended that they had just cause against him, and boasted of being the ministers of God, whose office it was to execute punishment upon him as a wicked person. This is a pretext under which the wicked generally shield themselves, and by which they are led to think that they may lawfully do what they please against those who are in misery, without ever being called to account for it. Thus we find this purpose of the wicked expressed in another place,
“Come let us persecute him, for God hath forsaken him;
for there is none to deliver him,” (Psalm 71:11.)
But I am rather of opinion that the Psalmist applies the term smitten to the man whom God intended to humble as one of his own children; so that in the very chastisement or correction, there was engraven a mark of God’s paternal love. And he employs the expression, the wounded of God, almost in the same sense in which Isaiah 26:19 speaks of the dead of God, the prophet thereby denoting those who continue under the Divine guardianship, even in death itself. This cannot be extended to all men in general, but is exclusively applicable to true believers, whose obedience God puts to the test by means of afflictions. If from this the wicked take occasion to persecute the righteous with greater severity, it is not to be wondered at if they involve themselves in heavier damnation. Upon seeing such examples set before them, the manner in which they should have reasoned with themselves is this,
“If these things are done in a green tree,
what shall be done in the dry?” (Luke 23:31.)
But from their becoming more and more hardened, it is evident that the pride and insolence which they manifest against the children of God proceed from contempt and hatred of true religion. The Hebrew word יספרו, yesapperu, which is usually translated they will recount, I would interpret differently. It properly signifies to number, and may, therefore, be properly enough translated to add to or increase, 9090 This is the translation given by the LXX., who read, προσέθηκαν, “they added to;” and similar is that of the Syriac, Vulgate, Arabic, and Æthiopic versions, and of the learned Castellio, who reads, “Sauciorum tuorum numerum adaugentes,” “increasing the number of thy wounded.” “ספר,” says Hammond, “signifies to number, and of that we know addition is one sort.” giving here the meaning, That the persons spoken of, by adding misery to misery, raised grief to its utmost height.
27. Add iniquity to their iniquity. As the Hebrew word און, avon, signifies at times guilt as well as iniquity, some translate the verse thus, Add thou, that is, thou, O God! punishment to their punishment Others extend it yet further, regarding it as a prayer that wicked men might punish them for their wickedness. But it is abundantly evident, from the second clause, that what David prays for rather is, as is almost universally admitted, that God, taking his Spirit altogether from the wicked, would give them over to a reprobate mind, that they might never seek or have any desire to be brought to genuine repentance and amendment. Some interpret the phrase to come into righteousness as meaning to be absolved or acquitted; 9191 This is the idea attached to it by Horsley, who translates the verse thus: “Give them punishment upon punishment, and admit them not to thy justification.” Cresswell explains it thus: “Let them not be restored to thy favor, nor experience thy clemency.” but it seems to want the spirit of the language here used, by which David intends to express much more. Accordingly, the words ought to be expounded thus: Let their wickedness increase more and more, and let them turn away with abhorrence from all thought of amendment, to make it manifest that they are utterly alienated from God. 9292 “Qu’ils sont alienez et bannis de la presence de Dieu.” — Fr. “That they are alienated and banished from the presence of God.” As this form of expression is familiar to the Sacred Writings, and every where to be met with, we ought not to think it harsh; and to wrest it, as some do, for the sake of avoiding what may have the appearance of absurdity, is ridiculous. The explanation they give of it is, That God adds sins to sins by permitting them; 9393 This is the explanation given by Hammond. The Hebrew word נתן, nathan, here rendered add, he translates give or permit, which he supports in the following note. “That נתם, to give, signifies also to permit, appears by Esther 9:13, ינתן, ‘let it be given to the Jews,’ i e., permitted them. So Exodus 12:23, ‘And shall not suffer (the Hebrew hath יתן, give) the destroyer to come in; the Chaldee reads ישבק, ‘permit,’ and the LXX. ἀθήσει, to the same sense. So Psalm 16:10, ‘Thou shalt not suffer (יתם, again, give) thy Holy One to see corruption.’ And so תנה עון, give wickedness, is no more than permit: for so it is ordinary with God, as a punishment of some former great sin or sins, though not to infuse any malignity, yet by withdrawing his grace, and delivering them up to themselves, to permit more sins to follow, one on the heels of the other, and so to be so far from reforming and amending as daily to grow worse and worse, to be more obdurate, and so finally never to enter into God’s righteousness; i e., into that way of obedience required by him, and which will be accepted by him, or (as צדק, in the notion of mercy, may signify being applied to God) into his mercy, so as to be made partakers of it.” A fuller statement and illustration of Calvin’s views on this point is given in his Institutes, Book I. chapter 18. and they defend such an exposition by asserting that this is an idiom of the Hebrew language, an assertion, the accuracy of which no Hebrew scholar will admit. Nor is it necessary to bring forward any such quibbles to excuse God; for, when he blinds the reprobate, it is sufficient for us to know that he has good and just causes for doing so; and it is in vain for men to murmur and to dispute with him, as if they sinned only by his impulse. Although the causes why they are blinded sometimes lie hidden in the secret purpose of Deity, there is not a man who is not reproved by his own conscience; and it is our duty to adore and admire the high mysteries of God, which surpass our understanding. It is justly said that “God’s judgments are a great deep,” (Psalm 36:6.) It would certainly be highly perverse to involve God in a part of the guilt of the wicked, whenever he executes his judgments upon them; as, for example, when he executes the judgment threatened in the passage before us. The amount is, that the wicked are plunged into a deep gulf of wickedness by the just vengeance of Heaven, that they may never return to a sound understanding, and that he who is filthy may become still more filthy, 9494 In the French version, the two last verbs of the sentence are put in the future tense, by which the idea conveyed is somewhat modified: “En sorte qu’ils ne retourneront jamais, a bon sens, et celuy qui est ord, deviendra encore plus ord.” — “So that they shall never return to a sound understanding, and he who is filthy will become still more filthy.” (Revelation 22:11.) Let it further be observed, that I do not explain the righteousness of God as denoting the righteousness which he bestows upon his chosen ones in regenerating them by his Holy Spirit, but the holiness manifested in the life which is so well-pleasing to him.
28. Let them be blotted out from the book of the living. 9595 “This phrase,” observes Bishop Mant, “which is not unusual in Scripture, alludes to the custom of well ordered cities, which kept registers, containing all the names of the citizens. Out of these registers the names of apostates, fugitives, and criminals, were erased, as also those of the deceased: whence the expression ‘blotting,’ or ‘erasing names from the book of life.’” This is the last imprecation, and it is the most dreadful of the whole; but it nevertheless uniformly follows the persevered in impenitence and incorrigible obduracy of which the Psalmist has spoken above. After having taken away from them all hope of repentance, he denounces against them eternal destruction, which is the obvious meaning of the prayer, that they might be blotted out of the book of the living; for all those must inevitably perish who are not found written or enrolled in the book of life. This is indeed an improper manner of speaking; but it is one well adapted to our limited capacity, the book of life being nothing else than the eternal purpose of God, by which he has predestinated his own people to salvation. God, it is certain, is absolutely immutable; and, further, we know that those who are adopted to the hope of salvation were written before the foundation of the world, (Ephesians 1:4;) but as God’s eternal purpose of election is incomprehensible, it is said, in accommodation to the imperfection of the human understanding, that those whom God openly, and by manifest signs, enrols among his people, are written. On the other hand, those whom God openly rejects and casts out of his Church are, for the same reason, said to be blotted out. As then David desires that the vengeance of God may be manifested, he very properly speaks of the reprobation of his enemies in language accommodated to our understanding; as if he had said, O God! reckon them not among the number or ranks of thy people, and let them not be gathered together with thy Church; but rather show by destroying them that thou hast rejected them; and although they occupy a place for a time among thy faithful ones, do thou at length cut them off, to make it manifest that they were aliens, though they were mingled with the members of thy family. Ezekiel uses language of similar import when he says,
“And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel.”
That, however, continues true which is spoken by the Apostle John, (1 John 2:19,) that none who have been once really the children of God will ever finally fall away or be wholly cut off. 9696 “Et se retrancher du tout.” — Fr. But as hypocrites presumptuously boast that they are the chief members of the Church, the Holy Spirit well expresses their rejection, by the figure of their being blotted out of the book of life. Moreover, it is to be observed that, in the second clause, all the elect of God are called the righteous; for, as Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:3, 4, 7,
“This is the will of God, even our sanctification, that every one of us should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honor: for God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3, 4, 7)
And the climax which the same Apostle uses in the 8th chapter of his Epistle to the Romans, at the 30th verse, is well known:
“Whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom
he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified,
them he also glorified.” (Romans 8:30)
29. As for me, I am poor and sorrowful. 9797 Boothroyd reads, “humbled and afflicted!” From this verse we perceive more distinctly how David cast away from him the swelling and raging passion of those who, with ungovernable fury, pour forth imprecation and vengeance. He here, without doubt, offers himself to God with the sacrifice of a broken and humble heart, that by this meekness of spirit he may obtain favor with him. He therefore adds immediately after, Thy salvation shall exalt me. Those assuredly who are impelled to avenge themselves by their own ungovernable spirits are so far from being humbled, that they exalt themselves to a position to which they are not entitled. There is here a mutual relation stated between the sorrow with which he was oppressed, and the help of God by which he hoped to be lifted up. At the same time, he assures himself that the very thing which others considered as a ground for despair, would prove to him the cause of his salvation. This sentence might also be explained adversatively thus: Although I now mourn under the pressure of affliction, yet shall thy salvation, O Lord! exalt me. But for my part, I consider it certain that David brings forward his own affliction as a plea for obtaining mercy at the hand of God. Nor does he say simply that he will be raised up, but he expressly speaks of being exalted; and in this he alludes to fortresses which are set upon high places; for this is the proper signification of the Hebrew word שגב, sagab, here employed.
30. I will celebrate the name of God in a song. The Psalmist now elevated with joy, and sustained by the confident hope of deliverance, sings the triumphant strains of victory. This psalm, there is every reason to believe, was composed after he had been delivered from all apprehension of dangers; but there can be no doubt that the very topics with which it concludes were the matter of his meditation, when trembling with anxiety in the midst of his troubles; for he laid hold upon the grace of God by assured faith, although that grace was then hidden from him, and only the matter of his hope. God is here said to be magnified by our praises; not because any addition can be made to his dignity and glory, which are infinite, but because by our praises his name is exalted among men.
31. And this will please Jehovah more than a young bullock. The more effectually to strengthen himself for this exercise, David affirms that the thanksgiving which he is about to tender, will be to God a sacrifice of a sweet and an acceptable savor. There cannot be a more powerful incitement to thanksgiving than the certain conviction that this religious service is highly pleasing to God; even as the only recompense which he requires for all the benefits which he lavishes upon us is, that we honor and praise his name. This sets in a stronger light the inexcusableness of those who are so sluggish as, by their silence or forgetfulness, to suppress the praises of God. David neither omitted nor despised the outward sacrifices which the law enjoined; but he very justly preferred the spiritual service, which was the end of all the Levitical ceremonies. This subject I have treated at greater length on Psalm 50:14. By the way, the humility of David is worthy of being noticed, who, although he rose so high as to be a heavenly pattern, yet disdained not to humble himself for the common benefit of the Church, as if he had belonged to the common class of the people, that by the figures of the law he might learn the truth which has since been more clearly manifested in the gospel; namely, that the praises of God, in so far as they proceed from our mouths, are impure, until they are sanctified by Christ. But how gross and stupid is the superstition of those who would again bring into use the outward pomp of ceremonies which were abolished by the one sacrifice of Christ’s death, and think that God is truly pacified when they have wearied themselves with doing nothing! What does this amount to, but to obscure or cover, by the intervention of thick veils, this legitimate service of thanksgiving, which David had no hesitation in greatly preferring to the Mosaic ceremonies, although these were of divine appointment? By a young bullock, he means one of the most choice or select and the idea which he intends to convey is, that there was no sacrifice or victim, however valuable or precious, that he could offer, in which God would take so great delight as in thanksgiving.
32. The afflicted have seen it. He here shows that the blessed effects of his deliverance will extend to others as well as to himself, a point which he frequently insists on in the Psalms, as we have seen in Psalm 22:23, 26, and in many other places. And his object in doing this is, partly to commend the goodness and grace of God to true believers, and partly that by this as an argument he may prevail with God to succor him. Besides, he does not mean that God’s people would rejoice at this spectacle merely on the ground of brotherly friendship, but because, in the deliverance of one man, a pledge would be given to others, affording them also assurance of salvation. For this very reason he terms them the afflicted. Whoever seek God, (says he,) although they may be subjected to afflictions, will nevertheless take courage from my example. The first and the second clauses of the verse must be read together; for a connected sense would not be preserved were we not to understand the meaning to be this, That the example of David would afford a ground of rejoicing to all the faithful servants of God when they should seek a remedy for their afflictions. He very properly conjoins the desire of seeking God with affliction; for all men do not so profit under the chastening hand of God as to seek salvation from him in the exercise of a sincere and ardent faith. In the concluding part of this verse there is a change of person: And your heart shall live. But this apostrophe is so far from rendering the sense obscure, that, on the contrary, it expresses it the more forcibly, as if a thing present were described. In addressing those who were so much under the pressure of affliction as to be laid prostrate like dead men, he exhibits to their view a kind of image of the resurrection; as if he had said, O ye who are dead! unto you new vigor shall be restored. It is not meant that faith perishes in the children of God, and remains entirely dead until it is quickened into life again by the example of the deliverance of others; but that the light which was quenched is rekindled, and thus, so to speak, recovers life anew. The Psalmist immediately after (verse 33) describes the means by which this will be brought about in the children of God, which is, that believing the deliverance of David to be a common token or pledge of the grace of God presented before them, they will confidently come to the conclusion, that God regards the needy, and does not despise the prisoners. We thus see that he considers what was done to one man, as a clear indication on the part of God that he will be ready to succor all who are in adversity. 9999 “Tous ceux qui seront oppressez a tort.” — Fr. “All who shall be wrongfully oppressed.”
34. Let the heavens and the earth praise him. From this we may conclude with the greater certainty, that, as I have touched upon above, David in the whole of this psalm spake in the name of the whole Church; for he now transfers to the Church what he had spoken in particular concerning himself. In calling upon the elements, which are destitute of thought or understanding, to praise God, he speaks hyperbolically, and by this manner of expression, he would teach us that we are not animated with sufficient earnestness of heart in celebrating the praises of God, the infinitude of which overpasses the whole world, unless we rise above our own understandings. But what above all kindled this ardor in the heart of David was his concern for the preservation of the Church. Moreover, there is no doubt that by the Spirit of prophecy he comprehended the whole of that period during which God would have the kingdom and priesthood continued among the ancient people of Israel. Yet he begins at the restoration of a new state of things, which by his means was suddenly brought about upon the death of Saul, when a melancholy devastation threatened at once the utter destruction of the worship of God, and the desolation of the whole country. He says, in the first place, that Zion shall be saved, because God would defend the place where he had chosen to be called upon, and would not suffer the worship which he himself had appointed to be abolished. In the next place, from the ark of the covenant and the sanctuary, he represents the divine blessing as extending to the whole land; for religion was the foundation upon which the happiness of the people rested. He farther teaches, that this change to the better would not be of short continuance; but that the people would be always preserved safe through the constant and enduring protection of God: And they shall dwell there, and possess it by inheritance. He therefore intimates, that the promise which God had so often made in the law, That they should inherit that land forever, was truly confirmed by the commencement of his reign. He contrasts tranquil and settled abode with a mere temporary residence; as if he had said, Now that the sacred throne is erected, the time is come in which the children of Abraham will enjoy the rest which has been promised to them, without fear of being removed from it.
36. And the seed of his servants shall inherit it. In this verse he declares that the blessing now mentioned would extend through a continued succession of ages — that, the fathers would transmit to their children the possession which they had received, as from hand to hand, and the children to their children; and the enduring possession of all good things depends upon Christ, of whom David was a type. Yet the Psalmist at the same time briefly intimates, that such only as are the legitimate children of Abraham shall inherit the land: They who love his name shall dwell in it. It was needful to take away all grounds for self-gloriation from hypocrites, who, looking to and depending solely upon the circumstances connected with the origin of their race, foolishly boasted that the land belonged to them by right of inheritance, notwithstanding of their having apostatised from the faith of their ancestors. Although that land was given to the chosen people to be possessed until the advent of Christ, we should remember that it was a type of the heavenly inheritance, and that, therefore, what is here written concerning the protection of the Church, has received a more true and substantial fulfillment in our own day. There is no reason to fear that the building of the spiritual temple, in which the celestial power of God has been manifested, will ever fall into ruins.