This psalm offers a good example of the way in which hymns were sometimes composed for the congregation It is plainly the work of a man with a fine poetic sense. The imagery is striking, and the versification regular and pleasing. A refrain divides it into two equal pieces, each falling into two stanzas of six lines. Yet it is plainly a composition from older hymns. (Comp. especially Psalm 36:5-6; Psalm 56:2-3; Psalm 7:15; Psalm 9:15.) The second part has itself in turn been used by another compiler. (See Psalms 108)
Title.—See Psalms 4, 16, title, and comp. titles of Psalms 58, 59, 75
Al-taschith—i.e., destroy not, the first words of some song to the tune of which this was to be sung.
Shadow of thy wings.—See Note, Psalm 17:8.
Until these calamities.—Danger of destruction gives the feeling of the Hebrew better than “camities.”
My soul is bowed down.—The verb so rendered is everywhere else transitive. So LXX. and Vulg. here, “And have pressed down my soul.” Despite the grammar, Ewald alters “my soul” into “their soul.” But no conjecture of the kind restores the parallelism, which is here hopelessly lost. We expect,
They have prepared a net for my steps;
They are caught in it themselves.
I myself will awake early.—Perhaps, rather, I will rouse the dawn. Comp Ovid. Met. xi. 597, where the cock is said evocare Auroram; and Milton, still more nearly:
“Oft listening how the hounds and horn,
Cheerily rouse the slumbering morn”—L’Allegro.)