10. When my father and mother shall forsake me, Jehovah will take me up. 11. Teach me thy way, O Jehovah! and lead me in the right path, because of mine adversaries. 12. Give me not up to the desire1 of mine oppressors: for false witnesses have risen up against me, and he who bringeth forth violence.
10. When my father and my mother shall forsake me. As it appears from the sacred history, that Jesse, so far as his opportunity admitted, performed his duty to his son David, some are of opinion that the nobles and councillors are here mentioned allegorically; but this is not suitable. Nor is it with any reason that they urge this scruple. David does not complain that he was unnaturally betrayed by his father or mother; but by this comparison he magnifies the grace of God, declaring, that he would ever find him ready to help him, although he might be forsaken of all men. The Hebrew particle yk, ki, for the most part, signifies for, but it is also known to be often employed for the adverb of time, when. David, therefore, meant to intimate, that whatever benevolence, love, zeal, attention, or service, might be found among men, they are far inferior to the paternal mercy with which God encircles his people. The highest degree of love among men, it is true, is to be found in parents who love their children as their own bowels. But God advances us higher, declaring, by the prophet Isaiah, that though a mother may forget the child of her womb, he would always be mindful of us, (Isaiah 49:15.) In this degree does David place him, so that he who is the source of all goodness far surpasses all mortals, who are naturally malevolent and niggardly. It is, however, an imperfect mode of speech, like that in Isaiah 63:16,
"Doubtless, thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not."
The purport of the whole is this:However inclined by nature earthly parents are to help their children, nay, though they should endeavor to cherish them with the greatest ardor of affection, yet should affection be wholly extinguished in the earth, God would fulfill the duty both of father and mother to his people. From which it follows, that we basely undervalue the grace of God, if our faith rise not above all the affections of nature; for sooner shall the laws of nature be overturned a hundred times, than God shall fail his people.
11. Teach me thy way, O Jehovah! Many think that David here requests that God would guide him by his Spirit, lest he should surpass his enemies in acting violently and wickedly. This doctrine is, no doubt, very useful, but it does not seem to agree with the scope of the passage. It is a simpler interpretation, in my opinion, to consider that David desires, in order to escape the snares and violence of his enemies, that God would extend to him his hand, and safely conduct him, so as to give a happy issue to his affairs. He sets the right path in opposition to the difficulties and impediments which are in places which are rough, and of difficult access, to overcome which he was unequal, unless God undertook the office of a guide to lead him. But he who thus desires to commit himself to the safeguard and protection of God,2 must first renounce crafty and wicked devices. We must not expect that God, who promises to grant a happy issue only to the single in heart, and those who trust in his faithfulness, will bless crooked and wicked counsels.
12. Give me not up to the desire of mine oppressors. The Hebrew noun spn, nephesh, signifies lust, will, or desire; and the language of David implies, Deliver me not up to the pleasure or lust of mine enemies, and thus he intimates, that they greedily gaped for his destruction. God delivers his people in two ways; either by appeasing the cruelty of the wicked, and rendering them meek; or, if he permit them to burn with fury, by restraining their power and violence, so that they desire and endeavor in vain to do mischief. The Psalmist afterwards adds, that he is persecuted both with slanders and false accusations, and also by open violence; for when he says, that they bring forth violence,3 he means that they speak of nothing but of war and slaughter. We thus see that the holy man was miserably oppressed on every side. Even his integrity, which we know to have been singular, could not free him from bitter and deadly calumnies, and he was at the same time overwhelmed by the violence and force of his enemies. If the ungodly, therefore, should at any time rise against us, not only with menaces and cruel violence, but to give the semblance of justice to their enmity, should slander us with lies, let us remember the example of David, who was assaulted in both ways; nay, let us recall to mind that Christ the Son of God suffered no less injury from lying tongues than from violence.4 Moreover, this prayer was dictated for our comfort, to intimate that God can maintain our innocence, and oppose the shield of his protection to the cruelty of our enemies.