This psalm is again simply titled “A Psalm of David.” It shows David the son of Jesse once again crying out to God, and praising Him for the hearing and answering of his prayer. In this psalm we see the heart in a few different aspects: the evil heart (Psalm 28:3), the trusting heart (Psalm 28:7), and the rejoicing heart (Psalm 28:7).
A. The prayer of petition, making requests of God.
1. (1-2) Asking to be heard by God.
To You I will cry, O LORD my Rock:
Do not be silent to me,
Lest, if You are silent to me,
I become like those who go down to the pit.
Hear the voice of my supplications
When I cry to You,
When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary.
a. To You will I cry, O LORD my Rock: do not be silent to me: With this opening to the psalm, David was both trusting and hopeful. In faith he gave God the title he longed for Him to fulfill: to be David’s Rock in the present season of difficulty. David said this also in hope, because at the moment he felt God to be silent to him.
i. David said that the LORD was his Rock – his foundation, his stability, his security. “It is a remarkable fact that in all the Old Testament literature, ‘rock’ is reserved as a figure of Deity…never for man.” (Morgan)
b. Lest, if You are silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit: In his trouble, David felt the grave was near – and if God did not intervene he would not live long. The response and intervention of God (opposite of being silent) was what David needed and longed for.
i. “The situation is probably illness or deep despair, and the fear is not a dread of death as such, but of death with unmerited disgrace.” (Kidner)
ii. To avoid this disgrace, David needed God to hear him, to no longer be silent. “Jehovah seems deaf when prayer is unanswered, and is silent when He does not speak in deliverance” (Maclaren).
iii. “Mere formalists may be content without answers to their prayers, but genuine suppliants cannot; they are not satisfied with the results of prayer itself in calming the mind and subduing the will – they must go further and obtain actual replies from heaven, or they cannot rest.” (Spurgeon)
c. When I cry to You, when I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary: David used the poetic techniques of repetition and parallelism to say essentially the same thing in two ways. His prayer was a cry to God, and his body was set in the traditional posture of prayer (I lift up my hands).
i. “An ordinary gesture in prayer, expressing faith (for they held out their open hands, as craving beggars).” (Trapp)
ii. Some (like Clarke and others) believe the line Your holy sanctuary proves that David did not write this psalm, and that it was actually composed at a later time when the temple stood. This is not necessary, because the tabernacle (which was certainly present in King David’s day) was also a holy sanctuary.
iii. “This need not mean that the psalm is later than David; only that the word had become the standard term for the ark’s abode by Solomon’s time, which suggests that it was in use well before this.” (Kidner)
2. (3-5) Asking to be spared the fate of the wicked.
Do not take me away with the wicked
And with the workers of iniquity,
Who speak peace to their neighbors,
But evil is in their hearts.
Give them according to their deeds,
And according to the wickedness of their endeavors;
Give them according to the work of their hands;
Render to them what they deserve.
Because they do not regard the works of the LORD,
Nor the operation of His hands,
He shall destroy them
And not build them up.
a. Do not take me away with the wicked: David happily knew that his life was different than the workers of iniquity, and he asked that God would treat him differently than the wicked.
i. “Even worse than consignment to the will of the wicked, which was the fear of Psalm 27:12, is consignment with them to the disgrace they have earned.” (Kidner)
b. Who speak peace to their neighbors, but evil is in their hearts: When David thought to describe the wicked, he began noting that they were false in their words, hiding the evil in their hearts.
i. “Soft words, oily with pretended love, are the deceitful meshes of the infernal net in which Satan catches the precious life; many of his children are learned in his abominable craft, and fish with their father’s nets, almost as cunningly as he himself could do it.” (Spurgeon)
c. Give them according to their deeds: In his own seasons of sin, David cast himself upon the mercy of God and asked to be forgiven for his sinful deeds. Here, he prayed for a harsh judgment to be applied to the wicked, that God would deal with them according to their wicked deeds.
i. To emphasize the point, David repeated the same idea in four different phrases:
· According to their deeds.
· The wickedness of their endeavors.
· The work of their hands.
· What they deserve.
ii. “These verses are not simply vindictive, but put into words the protest of any healthy conscience at the wrongs of the present order, and the conviction that a day of judgment is a moral necessity.” (Kidner)
d. Because they do not regard the works of the LORD, nor the operation of His hands: When David considered the wicked deeds of the ungodly, he also considered that they ignored the creative work of God. To David, this was evidence of one being sinful and ripe for judgment.
i. Paul expressed the same idea in Romans 1:20-21: For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
ii. “The acts of the Lord in creation, redemption, and Yahweh’s rule through David reveal the wonder of God’s purpose. The history of redemption condemns the wicked.” (VanGemeren)
e. He shall destroy them and not build them up: The wicked forget about God, but He does not forget about them. God promises to give those who reject Him what they deserve.
B. The prayer of praise, happy in the answer to prayer.
1. (6-7) Praising the LORD who hears prayer.
Blessed be the LORD,
Because He has heard the voice of my supplications!
The LORD is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart greatly rejoices,
And with my song I will praise Him.
a. Blessed be the LORD, because He has heard: In his trouble, David cried out to God. Now he praises the God who heard and answered his prayer, becoming David’s strength and shield.
i. “Suddenly the prayer becomes a song of praise, an act of adoration.” (Morgan)
ii. This praise was founded on a reason, indicated by the word because. “Real praise is established upon sufficient and constraining reasons; it is not irrational emotion, but rises, like a pure spring, from the deeps of experience.” (Spurgeon)
iii. It’s a beautiful thing to say, “my strength” and “my shield.” Some have a theoretical knowledge of God as a strength or shield, without knowing the goodness of it in their individual lives.
iv. “My dear friend, if you can say, ‘The Lord is my strength,’ you can bear anything and everything. You could bear a martyr’s death if the Lord should be your strength. He could make a stalk of wheat to bear up the whole world if he strengthened it.” (Spurgeon)
b. My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped: David here adds his voice to the testimony of countless others who have found help as their heart trusted in God. This brought great rejoicing and singing to David.
i. David knew that God answered his prayer, perhaps even before the answer was in hand. “It is a modern refinement in theology which teaches that no man can know when God hears and answers his prayers…. True religion knows nothing of these abominations; it teaches its votaries to pray to God, to expect an answer from him, and to look for the Holy Spirit to bear witness with their spirits that they are the sons and daughters of God.” (Clarke)
2. (8-9) Praising the LORD who is the strength of His people.
The LORD is their strength,
And He is the saving refuge of His anointed.
Save Your people,
And bless Your inheritance;
Shepherd them also,
And bear them up forever.
a. The LORD is their strength, and He is the saving refuge of His anointed: This is the blessing given to the heart that trusts God; God becomes their strength. He doesn’t merely give strength; He is their strength, and the refuge of His anointed.
i. The word anointed (mashiach) reminds us of the ultimate Anointed One, Jesus the Messiah. His anointed ones are secure in the Messiah, and therefore strong and safe.
b. Save Your people, and bless Your inheritance; shepherd them also, and bear them up forever: David concludes this psalm with a series of short prayers asking God to bring His people what they need and long for.
i. The psalm started with a plea for personal help and rescue, but by the end of the psalm, David’s concern is for the LORD’s people as a whole. “Whatever is dear to the loved one is dear to the lover. You cannot love the pastor without taking a keen interest in all that interests him, and especially in the sheep of his pasture, and the people of his hand. Hence when you are nearest the Lord, you are almost certain to begin pleading for his inheritance, and saying: ‘Save thy people; bless them, feed them, and lift them up forever.’” (Meyer)
· Save: God’s people need to be rescued and they look to God for it.
· Bless: God’s people need His blessing and favor, and they receive it by being His inheritance.
· Shepherd: God’s people need His care and guidance as a shepherd guides his flock. “Raah [shepherd] signifies both to feed and to govern. Feed them, as a shepherd does his flock; rule them, as a father does his children.” (Clarke)
· Bear them up: God’s people need God’s constant, sustaining presence – and they need it forever.
ii.“Jesus does not simply lead us to green pastures and still waters…He bears us up, and He does so for ever. Never tiring, though He imparts infinite rest; never ceasing for a moment his shepherd-care.” (Meyer)
(c) 2020 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – firstname.lastname@example.org