be of good courage; the saints have need of courage, considering the enemies they have to grapple with; the corruptions of their own hearts, the enemies of a man's own house; the worst of all, Satan, and his principalities and powers; and men of the world, and a world of them: and they have great reason, notwithstanding, be of good courage, since God is for them; Christ is the Captain of their salvation; the Holy Spirit, that is in them, is greater than he that is in the world; angels encamp around them; they are provided with the whole armour of God; they are engaged in a good cause, are sure of victory, and shall wear the crown of righteousness; and it follows,
and he shall strengthen thine heart; that is, the Lord will do it, as he has promised to them that wait on him, Isaiah 40:31; or "let thine heart be strengthened": as the Septuagint render it; and so the Chaldee paraphrase, "strengthen thine heart"; taking it for an exhortation; as indeed it seems to be by what goes before and follows; see Joshua 1:6;
wait, I say, on the Lord; this is repeated, to express the importance of this duty, and to encourage to it.
INTRODUCTION TO Psalm 28
A Psalm of David. This psalm, Aben Ezra says, David either composed himself, or one of the singers for him; the former seems most likely; and it might be made by him when he was persecuted by Saul, or when delivered from him; or at least when he had faith and hope that he should be delivered: the psalm consists of two parts, petitions and thanksgivings.
O Lord my rock; he being a strong tower and place of defence to him, in whom were all his safety, and his trust and confidence, and in whom he had an interest;
be not silent to me; or "deaf" (q); persons that do not hear are silent, and make no answer; as the Lord seems to be, when he returns no answer to the cries of his people; when he does not arise and help them; when he seems not to take any notice of his and their enemies, but stands at a distance from them, and as if he had forsaken them; see Psalm 39:12; the words may be considered, as they are by some, as an address to Christ his rock, his advocate and intercessor; that he would not be silent, but speak for him, and present his supplications to God, with the much incense of his mediation; see 1 Samuel 7:8;
lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit; either like such that fall into a ditch, and cannot help themselves out, and they cry, and there is none to take them out from thence; or like such that die in battle, and are cast into a pit, and there buried in common with others; which David might fear would be his case, through Saul's violent pursuit after him; or lest he should be like the dead, who are not regarded, and are remembered no more; or lest he should really die by the hands of his enemies, and so be laid in the grave, the pit of corruption; or be in such distress and despair as even the damned in hell be, the pit out of which there is no deliverance.
(q) "ne obsurdescas", Vatablus, Tigurine version, Gejerus; so Ainsworth, Junius & Tremellius, Michaelis.
when I cry unto thee; as he now did, and determined he would, and continue so doing, until he was heard;
when I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle: the holy of holies, in the tabernacle and in the temple, which was sometimes so called, 1 Kings 6:23; compared with 2 Chronicles 3:10; where were the ark, the mercy seat, and cherubim, between which the Lord dwelt, and gave responses to his people; or heaven itself, which the holy of holies was a figure of; where is the throne of God, and from whence he hears the prayers of his people directed to him; or else Christ himself, who is the most Holy, and the "Debir", or Oracle, who speaks to the Lord for his people; and by whom the Lord speaks to them again, and communes with them. The oracle had its name, "debir", from speaking. Lifting up of the hands is a prayer gesture, and here designs the performance of that duty to God in heaven, through Christ; see Lamentations 3:41; it was frequently used, even by the Heathens, as a prayer gesture (r); see Psalm 141:2.
(r) "Duplices manus ad sidera tendit--et paulo post--et ambas ad coelum tendit palmas", Virgil. Aeneid. 10. vid. Aeneid. 2. "Ad coelum manibus sublatis", Horat. Satyr. l. 2. satyr. 5. v. 97. "Coelo supines si tuleris manus", ib. Carmin. l. 3. Ode 23. v. 1. "Et pandere palmas ante Deum delubra", Lucretius l. 5. prope finem , Homer. Iliad. 5. v. 174.
and with the workers of iniquity; who make it the trade and business of their lives to commit sin; and which may be applied, not only to profane sinners, but to professors of religion, Matthew 7:23; since it follows,
which speak peace to their neighbours, but mischief is in their hearts; hypocrites, double minded men, who have a form of godliness, but deny the power of it; pretend to religion, and have none; and speak fair to the face, but design mischief and ruin; as Saul and his servants did to David, 1 Samuel 18:17.
and according to the wickedness of their endeavours; for though wicked men do not always succeed; yet their want of success does not excuse their wickedness;
give them after the work of their hands; see 2 Timothy 4:14;
render to them their desert; what their iniquities, in thought, word, and deed, deserve: such petitions are not contrary to that Christian charity which the Gospel recommends; nor do they savour of a spirit of revenge, which is condemned by the word of God; for it should be observed, that these things are said with respect to men given up to a reprobate mind; and that the psalmist does not seek to avenge himself, nor to gratify his own mind; but he sought the glory of God, and moreover spoke by a prophetic spirit, knowing what was the will of God in this case; see Psalm 28:5; and therefore these petitions of his are not to be drawn into an example in common and ordinary cases.
nor the operation of his hands; in which his hand was so very apparent, that nothing less could be said than that this was the finger of God; wherefore,
he shall destroy them, and not build them up; that is, they shall be irrecoverably lost; they shall be punished with everlasting destruction; there will be no help or remedy for them: some (s) understand this as a prayer, that God would destroy them in such a manner, and render it, "let him destroy them", &c. (t).
(s) Kimchi in loc. Vid. Aben Ezram in loc. (t) "destruat eos", Vatablus; so the Arabic version.
because he hath heard the voice of my supplications; what he had prayed for, Psalm 28:2; an answer was quickly returned, even while he was speaking, Isaiah 65:24; though this may be an expression of faith, being fully persuaded and assured that he was heard, and would be answered, and may be said by a prophetic spirit; knowing that what he had humbly asked for would be granted; so Aben Ezra and Kimchi understand it in a way of prophecy.
and my shield; to protect and defend him; as were the love, power, and faithfulness of God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, his power and fulness, his blood, righteousness, and salvation;
my heart trusted in him; in the Lord as his strength and shield; not in any creature, nor in his own strength and righteousness; but in the Lord God, in whom are righteousness and strength: and it is plain he did not trust in his own heart, since his heart trusted in the Lord; and which shows that his trust was an hearty one, his faith was a faith unfeigned, he believed with the heart unto righteousness;
and I am helped: this was the fruit of his trust, even a gracious experience of divine assistance: saints are helpless in themselves, and are also as to the help of man; God is the only helper of them; he helps them out of all their troubles; in whatsoever he calls them unto, and to what they want; and the help he affords is sometimes quick, and always seasonable; and sometimes by means, and sometimes without them;
therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; that is, in the Lord, the ground of which was the help he had from him; and this joy was very great, a joy unspeakable, and full of glory; it was not carnal, but spiritual, a heart joy, joy in the Holy Ghost;
and with my song will I praise him; praise is due to God, what glorifies him, and is acceptable to him; it becomes the saints, is comely for them, and it is pleasant work to them, when grace is in exercise; see Psalm 69:30; this may be understood of one of his songs, and one of the best of them, and of one better than this, as a Jewish writer (u) observes.
(u) R. Moseh in Aben Ezra in loc.
and he is the saving strength of his anointed; meaning either himself, as before, who was anointed by Samuel king of Israel, and therefore had not invaded and thrust himself into an office he had no call and right unto; or the Messiah, the Lord's Anointed, whom he heard, helped, and strengthened in the day of salvation, and delivered him from the power of death and the grave, and raised him from thence, and gave him glory; see Psalm 20:6.