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71. Psalm 71
1In thee, O Jehovah, do I take refuge:
Let me never be put to shame.
2Deliver me in thy righteousness, and rescue me:
Bow down thine ear unto me, and save me.
3Be thou to me a rock of habitation, whereunto I may continually resort:
Thou hast given commandment to save me;
For thou art my rock and my fortress.
4Rescue me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked,
Out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man.
5For thou art my hope, O Lord Jehovah:
Thou art my trust from my youth.
6By thee have I been holden up from the womb;
Thou art he that took me out of my mother's bowels:
My praise shall be continually of thee.
7I am as a wonder unto many;
But thou art my strong refuge.
8My mouth shall be filled with thy praise,
And with thy honor all the day.
9Cast me not off in the time of old age;
Forsake me not when my strength faileth.
10For mine enemies speak concerning me;
And they that watch for my soul take counsel together,
11Saying, God hath forsaken him:
Pursue and take him; for there is none to deliver.
12O God, be not far from me;
O my God, make haste to help me.
13Let them be put to shame and consumed that are adversaries to my soul;
Let them be covered with reproach and dishonor that seek my hurt.
14But I will hope continually,
And will praise thee yet more and more.
15My mouth shall tell of thy righteousness,
And of thy salvation all the day;
For I know not the numbers thereof.
16I will come with the mighty acts of the Lord Jehovah:
I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only.
17O God, thou hast taught me from my youth;
And hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works.
18Yea, even when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not,
Until I have declared thy strength unto the next generation,
Thy might to every one that is to come.
19Thy righteousness also, O God, is very high;
Thou who hast done great things, O God, who is like unto thee?
20Thou, who hast showed us many and sore troubles,
Wilt quicken us again,
And wilt bring us up again from the depths of the earth.
21Increase thou my greatness,
And turn again and comfort me.
22I will also praise thee with the psaltery,
Even thy truth, O my God:
Unto thee will I sing praises with the harp,
O thou Holy One of Israel.
23My lips shall shout for joy when I sing praises unto thee;
And my soul, which thou hast redeemed.
24My tongue also shall talk of thy righteousness all the day long;
For they are put to shame, for they are confounded, that seek my hurt.
1. In thee, O Jehovah! do I put my trust. It has been thought that the occasion of the composition of this psalm was the conspiracy of Absalom; and the particular reference which David makes to his old age renders this conjecture not improbable. As when we approach God, it is faith alone which opens the way for us, David, in order to obtain what he sought, protests, according to his usual manner, that he does not pour forth at the throne of grace hypocritical prayers, but betakes himself to God with sincerity of heart, fully persuaded that his salvation is laid up in the Divine hand. The man whose mind is in a state of constant fluctuation, and whose hope is divided by being turned in different directions, in each of which he is looking for deliverance, or who, under the influence of fear, disputes with himself, or who obstinately refuses the Divine assistance, or who frets and gives way to restless impatience, is unworthy of being succoured by God. The particle לעולם, leolam, in the end of the first verse, which we have translated for ever, admits of a twofold sense, as I have shown on Psalm 31:1. It either tacitly implies a contrast between the present calamities of David and the happy issue which he anticipated; as if he had said, Lord, I lie in the dust at present as one confounded; but the time will come when thou wilt grant me deliverance. Or not to be ashamed for ever, means never to be ashamed. As these verses almost correspond with the beginning of the 31st psalm, I would refer to that place for those explanatory remarks which I here purposely omit, not wishing to tax the patience of my readers by unnecessary repetition.
In these words of the third verse, Into which I may at all times enter, which are not to be found in the other psalm, David briefly prays that he may have so ready and easy access to God for succor, as to find in him a secure refuge whenever threatened by any immediate danger. Lord! as if he had said, let me always find ready succor in thee, and do thou meet me with a smile of benignity and grace, when I betake myself to thee. The expression which follows, Thou hast given commandment to save me, is resolved by some interpreters into the optative mood; as if David requested that he might be committed to the guardianship of angels. But it is better to retain the past tense of the verb, and to understand him as encouraging himself, from his experience in times past, to hope for a happy issue to his present calamities. Nor is there any necessity for limiting to the angels the verb, thou hast given commandment. God, no doubt, employs them in defending his people; but as he is possessed of innumerable ways of saving them, the expression, I conceive, is used indefinitely, to teach us that he gives commandment concerning the salvation of his servants, according as he has purposed, whenever he gives some manifest token of his favor toward them in his providence; and what he has determined in his own mind, he executes sometimes by his nod alone, and sometimes by the instrumentality of men or other creatures. Meanwhile, David would intimate that such is the all-sufficient power of God intrinsically considered, that without having recourse to any foreign aid, his commandment alone is abundantly adequate for effecting our salvation.
4. O my God! deliver me from the hand of the wicked man. Here he uses the singular number; but he is not to be understood as indicating one man only. 102102 At the same time, it may be observed, that if this psalm was written during the rebellion of Absalom, this cruel son or Achitophel may be the person whom David has here in his eye, and describes in the singular number. If he refers to his own son, how deep must have been his agony of soul to be under the necessity of appealing to God in his present distressing circumstances, against an unnatural and wicked child, around whom all the affections of his heart were intwined! What Calvin renders, in the last clause of the verse, “the violent man,” is literally “leavened man.” Leaven seems to be an image for deep and inveterate depravity of any kind. “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees,” said our Lord. — (Matthew 16:6; see also 1 Corinthians 5:8.) It is highly probable that he comprehends the whole host of the enemies who assaulted him. We have elsewhere had occasion to observe how greatly it contributes to inspire us with the confidence of obtaining our requests, when we are so assured of our own integrity, as to be able freely to complain before God that we are unjustly and wickedly assaulted by our enemies; for we ought not to doubt that God, who has promised to become the defender of those who are unjustly oppressed, will, in that case, undertake our cause.