make haste unto me, O God; which repeats for sense the same petition as in Psalm 71:1;
thou art my help and my deliverer; O Lord, make no tarrying; in Psalm 40:17 it is, "O my God".
INTRODUCTION TO Psalm 71
This psalm is without a title, but is thought to be David's: the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions, and all the Oriental ones, ascribe it to him; and both the subject and style show it to be his. According to the title of the Syriac version, it was composed by him when Saul made war against the house of David; but this is not likely, since it was written by him in his old age, Psalm 71:9; rather, according to Kimchi and Arama, it was penned when he fled from his son Absalom: there are several things in it which incline to this. The Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions call it
"A Psalm of David, of the sons of Jonadab, and of the first that were carried captive;''
and so the Ethiopic and Arabic versions. Apollinarius says the sons of Jonadab composed it; but without any foundation for it; and the Syriac version is, it is a prophecy concerning the sufferings and resurrection of the Messiah; and so Jerom and others interpret it. The literal meaning respecting David seems best, though it may be applied to the church, and to any believer in distress. Theodoret thinks it was written by David in the person of the captives in Babylon.
"in thy Word;''
See Gill on Psalm 31:1;
let me never be put to confusion; or "be ashamed"; see the note as before.
and cause me to escape; present danger, and out of the hands of enemies, as well as wrath to come, and eternal death; which nothing but the righteousness of God can deliver from, or cause to escape;
incline thine ear unto me; or "bow it"; See Gill on Psalm 31:2;
and save me; out of all troubles and afflictions, and from wicked and unreasonable men.
(q) "propter justitiam tuam", Pagninus, Piscator; so Schmidt.
whereunto I may continually resort; or "may go into daily" (r), in times of danger and distress, for safety; the name of the Lord being a strong tower, whither the righteous run, and are safe, Proverbs 18:10; and his perfections, his power, faithfulness, lovingkindness, and unchangeableness, being as so many secret chambers, where they may enter into, and hide themselves, till calamities are over, Psalm 57:1; and every day indeed for food, for comfort, for refreshment and pleasure, through communion with him; and God in Christ is always to be come at: Christ is the way of access and acceptance; and through his blood, sacrifice, and righteousness, the believer has boldness to enter into the holiest of all, and go up to the seat of God, the throne of his grace; and even to enter into him himself, who has been the dwelling place of his people in all generations, Psalm 90:1;
thou hast given commandment to save me; either to the ministering angels, as Aben Ezra and Kimchi interpret it, comparing it with Psalm 91:11; or rather to his Son, in the council and covenant of grace and peace; when he enjoined him the salvation of his people, which he readily agreed to, and with which David was acquainted, Psalm 40:7; of this command our Lord speaks, John 10:18; and to which he was obedient, Philippians 2:8; it may respect David's salvation from present trouble, and his assurance of it, believing that the Lord had determined it, and by his mighty power would effect it; see Psalm 44:4;
for thou art my rock and my fortress; see Psalm 18:2.
(r) "ut ingrediar jugiter", Pagninus; so Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.
out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man; or "leavened" (s); a sour ill natured man; one leavened with malice and wickedness: perhaps Ahithophel is intended. It may be applied to any wicked, lawless, and tyrannical persecutor of God's people; and particularly to the lawless and wicked one, the man of sin, the son of perdition, antichrist, 2 Thessalonians 2:4.
(s) "malitiae fermento prorsus corrupti", Michaelis, "secundum", Gejerum & Gussetium; so Ainsworth.
thou art my trust from my youth; in whom he trusted in his youthful days, of which there is an eminent instance in 1 Samuel 17:33.
thou art he that took me out of my mother's bowels; See Gill on Psalm 22:9; the Syriac version is, "thou art my hope from my mother's bowels"; the Arabic version, "thou art my helper"; and the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions, "thou art my protector"; the word is only used here, and in Psalm 90:10; and is there rendered "cut off"; the Lord was, as it were, his "cutter off" (t); that cut the navel string, and loosed him from his mother, and safely brought him into the world, and preserved him ever since: wherefore he adds,
my praise shall be continually of thee; as the God of nature and providence; and also as the God of grace, who had blessed him both with temporal and spiritual blessings; and these being continued with him, he determines that God should be the subject of his praise always. The Targum is,
"in thy Word my praise is continually.''
(t) "excisor meus", Gejerus.
but thou art my strong refuge; or "my refuge of strength" (w); his refuge and strength, as in Psalm 46:1; his refuge, to which he betook himself, when refuge failed him, and no man cared for him, and which he found to be a strong one, and in it safety.
(u) "multis vel magnis", Piscator; so Ainsworth. (w) "refugium meum roboris", Gejerus.
and with thy honour all the day; the excellency of his nature, the glory of his majesty, the honour due unto him, on account of his being, attributes, and blessings of providence and grace; a work to be employed in all the day, evening, morning, and at noon; as often as prayer is made to God, praise, honour, and glory, should be given him; since his mercies are new every morning, and they continue all the day long; his goodness endures for ever.
forsake me not when my strength faileth: as it does when old age comes on; then the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men bow themselves, and especially at death, when flesh and heart fail; but God will never forsake his people, neither in youth nor in old age, neither in life nor at death.
"for mine enemies speak evil against me;''
or concerning me. David had his enemies, and many, as Ahithophel, and others, who spake against him to the people, and thereby drew many with them into rebellion against him; and particularly Shimei spoke against him, and cursed him, calling him a bloody man, a man of Belial, 2 Samuel 16:7;
and they that lay wait for my soul; or "life"; that laid snares for him; or lay in ambush, and sought for an opportunity to take away his life: or "they that keep my soul", or "life" (a); that were his bodyguards that were about his person for the preservation of him; and so the Targum seems to understand it;
take counsel together; lay schemes and form plots how to destroy him, as Ahithophel did, 2 Samuel 16:20.
(y) "dixerunt mihi", Montanus. (z) "De me loquuti sunt, vel loquuntur", Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius, Gejerus, Michaelis. (a) "custodientes animam meam", Pagninus, Montanus; "custodiebant", V. L.
persecute and take him; pursue after him eagerly and diligently; lose no time; and, when come up to him, seize upon him, without any fear of God or man;
for there is none to deliver him; out of our hands. God will not, for he has forsaken him; and men cannot, for he has not an army sufficient to defend him or recover him.
O my God, make haste for my help; he knew that his help was in God, and that there was none for him elsewhere; and that he could help him when none else could, and was a present help in time of trouble; and it being such a time with him, and his case desperate, he desires the Lord that he would make haste; and he addresses him as his own God, the consideration of which encouraged his faith and hope in him, and carried in it an argument to help him; see Psalm 119:94.
and consumed; like smoke; see Psalm 37:20; as antichrist will be with the breath of Christ's mouth, and the brightness of his coming, 2 Thessalonians 2:8;
that are adversaries to my soul; that hated him with a diabolical hatred, as the devil hates the souls of men, and who has his name "Satan" from the word here used; all wicked men are Satans, full of enmity against God, and all good men; and such were David's enemies, spiteful and malicious, and nothing would satisfy them but his life;
let them be covered with reproach and dishonour; as with a garment:
that seek my hurt; see Psalm 35:26; as Absalom and his company; so Arama.
and will yet praise thee more and more; or "will add to all thy praise" (b); to former praises and thanksgivings, fresh ones, as his mercies were renewed to him, and he was daily loaded with benefits.
(b) "omnibus laudibus tuis adjiciam", Tigurine version.
and thy salvation all the day; both temporal and eternal; the glory of both, and praise for the same;
for I know not the numbers thereof; of that righteousness and salvation, the numerous blessings which are contained in them; see Psalm 40:5; or "though I know not the numbers of them" (c); though he could not fully declare the glories and excellencies of the righteousness and salvation of God, and the numerous mercies and rich grace included in them; yet he would attempt to set them forth in the best way he could, though in a feeble and imperfect manner.
(c) "quamvis", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Gejerus; So Ainsworth.
I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only; and that before the Lord himself: not his own righteousness, which he knew would not justify him in his sight, nor render him acceptable to him; nor furnish out a plea or argument why he should receive any favour from him; and therefore resolves not to mention it; but the righteousness of Christ, which is the righteousness of God, which he approves of, accepts, and imputes. This is a pure, perfect, and spotless righteousness, which God is well pleased with; honours his law, satisfies his justice, and so justifies in his sight; and renders person and service acceptable to him; and therefore with great pleasure and boldness, may be mentioned unto as it should be to Christ himself also; by ascribing it to him, as the author of it; by expressing a desire to be found in it; to have faith of interest in it, and joy on account of it; and by owning him openly and freely as the Lord our righteousness: and we should make mention of it to others, in praise of it; extolling it as the righteousness of God, and not a creature; and so sufficient to justify many, even all the seed of Israel; as the best robe of righteousness, better than the best of man's, better than Adam's in innocence, or than the angels' in heaven; as a law honouring and justice satisfying one, and as an everlasting one. And we should put ourselves in mind of it, and, by repeated acts of faith, put it on as our justifying righteousness; since much of our joy, peace, and comfort, depend upon it. And this, and this only, is to be made mention of; it is only in the Lord that there is righteousness: as there is salvation in him, and in no other, so there is righteousness in him, and in no other; wherefore no other is to be mentioned along with it: justification is not partly by Christ's righteousness, and partly by our own; but only by his, and through faith in it; see Romans 9:32.
(d) "in fortitudines", Montanus; "in potentias", V. L. Vatablus.
and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works: not only of nature and providence, but of grace; the treasuring up of all grace, and the blessings of it in Christ; the work of redemption by him; the work of regeneration and conversion by his Spirit; and the perseverance of the saints by his grace and strength; which are all wonderful and amazing. And as the psalmist saw his interest in these things, and had an experience of them, he declared them to others for their encouragement, and to the glory of all the three Persons; see Psalm 66:16.
until I have showed thy strength unto this generation; or, "thine arm" (e); which sometimes the Messiah, Isaiah 53:1; who is the power of by whom he made the worlds, and in whom all things consist; and who has wrought out the salvation people; and is the arm on which they lean, and they are upheld. And the psalmist may be thought to desire that he might be continued a little longer, and be favoured with the presence of God, and the influences of his Spirit and grace; that he might show forth in prophecy, both by word and writing, to the men of the then present age, more things concerning the person, office, and grace of Christ; his sufferings, death, resurrection from the dead, and session at the right hand of God; things which are spoken of in the book of Psalms. Sometimes the arm of the Lord denotes his power and strength, Psalm 44:3; and so it may be taken here; and the next clause seems to be an explanation of it:
and thy power; or "even thy power",
to everyone that is to come; that is, to come into the world, that is to be born into it; namely, the power of God, not only in creating all things out of nothing, and supporting what is made; but in the redemption of men, in the conversion of sinners, and in the preservation of the saints, and in enabling them to hold on and out unto the end: and which is shown forth by the psalmist in what he has committed to writing; and which continue, and will continue, to the end of the world, for the instruction of those that come into it; see Psalm 22:31.
(e) "brachium tuum", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, &c.
who hast done great things; in nature, in forming the world out of nothing, and in upholding all creatures in their beings; in providence, in governing the world, and ordering all things in it for the best, and to answer the wisest purposes; in grace, in the salvation of lost sinners by Christ; in the justification of them by his righteousness; and in the atonement and pardon of their sins, through his blood and sacrifice; in the regeneration of them by his grace; in making and performing exceeding great and precious promises, and in giving them eternal life;
O God, who is like unto thee? either for greatness or goodness; for power or for mercy; for justice, truth, and faithfulness; for the perfections of his nature, or the works of his hands; and to be praised, reverenced and adored, as he is; see Psalm 89:6.
(f) "usque in excelsum", Pagninus, Montanus, Gejerus; "in altum usque", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.
shalt quicken me again; either raise him from so great a death of afflictions, in which he seemed to be as a dead man, both by himself and others, to a more comfortable and happy state and condition, in which he might live more free from vexation and trouble: or, in a spiritual sense, quicken him, being dead and lifeless, in the exercise of grace, and discharge of duty; which is usually done by the word and ordinances, and to purpose, by the discoveries of the love of God, which excite grace, and animate to duty. And this is God's work, and may be called a quickening again in distinction from the first quickening, when dead in trespasses and sins;
and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth; expressive of a very low estate, either of body or mind, into which he had been brought; see Psalm 130:1. Could the psalm be understood of Christ, this and the preceding clause might be applied to his resurrection from the dead; see Ephesians 4:9; and to the resurrection of the saints; on which the faith of Christ and his people is exercised,
(g) "fecisti me videre", Vatablus, Cocceius, Gejerus; "videre et experiri fecisti nos", Michaelis.
and comfort me on every side; by his Spirit, word, and ordinances; by his truths and promises; with his rod and staff; and with mercy, grace, and lovingkindness. The phrase denotes the abundance of comfort, which should come as it were from every quarter, and encompass him about.
even thy truth, O my God; that is, his faithfulness in fulfilling his promises, which is never suffered to fail;
unto thee will I sing with the harp; another instrument of music; and both typical of the spiritual melody in the heart, which believers make in praising the Lord, when they sing the Lamb's new song; see Revelation 14:2;
O thou Holy One of Israel; the God of Israel, that dwells among them, and sanctifies them; and who is essentially and perfectly holy in himself, and in all his ways and works; the remembrance of which occasions praise and thankfulness, Psalm 97:12.
and my soul, which thou hast redeemed; signifying that it would not be lip labour, or bodily service, only that he should perform; but that his heart would go along with his lips in praise; and that under a sense of redeeming love, than which nothing can more strongly engage in such work, Psalm 103:1. For the redemption of the soul is exceeding precious; being the contrivance of infinite wisdom, the fruit of divine grace, and owing to the blood and sacrifice of Christ.