This psalm gives no distinct indication of its authorship or date of composition. The writer appears to be in a critical condition of health (Psalm 28:1), and fears death as a mark of Divine punishment, involving him, though innocent, with the wicked. If the psalm is the product of one pen and time, and is really the expression of individual feeling, the writer was a king (Psalm 28:8). But the last two verses seem, both in rhythm and tone, to be from another hand, and to be the expression of national, not individual, confidence and hope. In the first seven verses the parallelism is hardly marked at all.
Be not silent to me.—Vulg. and margin, rightly, “from me.” The word rendered “silent” appears, like κωφὸς in Greek, to have the double meaning of deaf and dumb, and is apparently from an analogous derivation. (See Gesenius, Lex., sub voce.) Hence we might render, “turn not a deaf ear to me,” or “turn not from me in silence.”
Them that go down into the pit—i.e., the dead, or those just about to die (Psalm 30:3). In Psalm 88:4, the expression is parallel to “My life draweth nigh unto the grave;” pit (bôr) is either the sepulchre (as Isaiah 14:19), or the world of the dead (Psalm 88:4). The two significations pass one into the other. This expression suggests that the psalmist was on a bed of sickness.
“If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer.”
TENNYSON: Morte d’Arthur.
Holy oracle.—Better, the shrine of thy sanctuary (see margin)—i.e., the holy of holies, the adytum, or inner recess of the Temple in which the ark was placed, as we see from 1 Kings 6:19-22. The Hebrew word, which is of doubtful derivation, is, with the exception of this place, only found in Kings and Chronicles. The margin, “the oracle of thy sanctuary,” is a better rendering than the text.
With my song.—Literally, from my song, but the reading is doubtful. The LXX. have “my flesh has flourished,” which is probably correct.
Saving strength.—Better, stronghold of salvation. (See margin.)