3. And thou, Jehovah, art a shield for me, my glory, and he that exalteth my head. 4. I have cried to the lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.
The copulative and should be resolved into the disjunctive particle but, because David employs language full of confidence, in opposition to the hardihood and profane scoffings of his enemies,1 and testifies that whatever they may say, he would nevertheless rely upon the word of God. It besides appears that he had previously entertained an assured hope of deliverance, from the circumstance of his here making no mention of his present calamity as a chastisement inflicted upon him by the hand of God; but rather depending upon the divine aid, he courageously encounters his enemies, who were carrying on an ungodly and wicked war against him, seeing they intended to depose a true and lawful king from his throne. In short, having acknowledged his sin before, he now takes into consideration only the merits of the present cause. And thus it becomes the servants of God to act when molested by the wicked. Having mourned over their own sins, and humbly betaken themselves to the mercy of God, they ought to keep their eyes fixed on the obvious and immediate cause of their afflictions, that they may entertain no doubt of the help of God when undeservedly subjected to evil treatment. Especially when, by their being evil entreated, the truth of God is opposed, they ought to be greatly encouraged, and glory in the assurance that God without doubt will maintain the truth of his own promises against such perfidious and abandoned characters. Had it been otherwise with David, he might seem to have claimed these things to himself groundlessly, seeing he had deprived himself of the approbation and help of God by offending him.2 But being persuaded that he was not utterly cut off from the favor of God, and that God's choice of him to be king remained unchanged, he encourages himself to hope for a favorable issue to his present trials. And, in the first place, by comparing God to a shield, he means that he was defended by his power. Hence also he concludes, that God was his glory, because he would be the maintainer and defender of the royal dignity which he had been pleased to confer upon him. And, on this account, he became so bold that he declares he would walk with unabashed brow.3
4. With my voice have I cried unto the Lord. He here informs us that he had never been so broken by adversity, or cast down by impious scornings,4 as to be prevented from addressing his prayers to God. And it was an infallible proof of his faith to exercise it by praying even in the midst of his distresses. Nothing is more unbecoming than sullenly to gnaw the bit with which we are bridled, and to withhold our groaning from God,5 if, indeed we have any faith in his promise. Nor is there a redundancy of expression in these words, I have cried with my voice. David distinctly mentions his voice, the better to express that how much soever the ungodly might rage against him, he was by no means struck dumb, but pronounced, in a loud and distinct voice, the name of his God; and to do this was a difficult matter under so grievous and severe a temptation. He also particularly mentions his voice, in order to show that he opposes the voice of prayer to the tumultuous outcries of those who either blame fortune or curse God, or give way to excessive complainings; those in short, who with passionate confusion pour forth their immoderate sorrow. But David's meaning appears to me to be principally this, that amidst the blasphemies of his enemies by which they endeavored to overwhelm his faith, he was not put to silence, but rather lifted up his voice to God, whom the ungodly imagined to have become his enemy. He adds that he cried not in vain, to encourage all the godly to the like constancy. As to the expression, from the hill of his holiness or, which signifies the same things from his holy hill, it is improperly explained of heaven, as has been done by some. Heaven, I indeed confess, is often called, in other places, God's holy palace; but here David has doubtless a reference to the ark of the covenant, which at that time stood on Mount Sion. And he expressly affirms that he was heard from thence, though he had been compelled to flee into the wilderness. The Sacred History relates, (2 Samuel 25:24,) that when Abiathar the priest commanded the ark to be carried by the Levites, David would not suffer it. And in this the wonderful faith of the holy man appears conspicuous. He knew that the Lord had chosen Sion to be the dwelling place of the ark, but he was, notwithstanding, willing rather to be torn from that sacred symbol of the divine presence, (which was painful to him as if his own bowels had been torn from him,) than make any innovation not sanctioned by the will of heaven. Now, he boasts, that although he was deprived of the sight of the ark, and notwithstanding the distance to which he was removed from it, God was near him to listen to his prayers. By these words he intimates that he kept a due medium, inasmuch as he neither despised the visible sign, which the Lord had appointed on account of the rudeness of the times, nor by attaching a superstitious importance to a particular place, entertained carnal conceptions of the glory of God. Thus, he did not idly scatter words which would vanish into air, as unbelievers are wont to do, who pray also but are in doubt to what place they ought to direct their speech. David turned himself directly towards the tabernacle, whence God had promised to be merciful to his servants. Hence the confidence with which he prayed; and this confidence was not without success. In our day, since there is fulfilled in Christ what was formerly shadowed forth by the figures of the law, a much easier way of approach to God is opened up for us, provided we do not knowingly and willingly wander from the way.