This psalm is titled To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. To bring to remembrance. This psalm certainly has the sense of remembrance, in that it is almost the same as Psalm 40:13-17.
“This prayer is the shield, spear, thunderbolt and defense against every attack of fear, presumption [and] lukewarmness…which are especially dominant today.” (Martin Luther, cited in James Montgomery Boice)
A. The plea for deliverance.
1. (1) Answer me quickly, O God.
Make haste, O God, to deliver me!
Make haste to help me, O LORD!
a. Make haste, O God, to deliver me: David asked God to bring help with haste, knowing that if deliverance was too long delayed, it was of no help at all. Therefore he asked with a sense of urgency. Many of our prayers would prevail more with God if they were offered with more urgency.
i. “The petitions in this form of the psalm emphasize the urgency of the matter. There is not a moment to lose; or so it appears.” (Kidner)
b. Make haste to help me, O LORD: David repeated the request for emphasis, but slightly changed his address to Deity. In the repetition he used the name Yahweh (LORD), the covenant name of God. By the additional name he hoped to secure additional speed in the reply.
i. G. Campbell Morgan believed that such prayers were flawed in their understanding of God. “It reveals a mistaken conception of God. God never needs to be called upon to hasten. He is never tarrying uselessly or carelessly.” (Morgan)
ii. However, Morgan explained that God still wants to hear such imperfect prayers. “We may use any terms in our prayers, if they are directed to Him, knowing that He will understand, and in His understanding, interpret our faulty terms by His own perfect knowledge, and give us His best answers to our deepest need.” (Morgan)
iii. “Let us take it and use it, knowing that He would far rather have in our song an expression of an honest questioning than any affectation of a confidence not possessed. Moreover, He would rather have from us such a song than silence.” (Morgan)
2. (2-3) David prays against his adversaries.
Let them be ashamed and confounded
Who seek my life;
Let them be turned back and confused
Who desire my hurt.
Let them be turned back because of their shame,
Who say, “Aha, aha!”
a. Let them be ashamed and confounded who seek my life: This was the help that David sought. David prayed that God would turn back his enemies and cause them to be confused.
i. “The psalmist prays for his enemies’ fall and shame in accordance with the principles of justice and with the promise of God to curse those who cursed his own.” (VanGemeren)
b. Let them be turned back because of their shame: This was a bold request, because many times our enemies seem to have no sense of shame as they attack and oppose us.
i. “The kindest thing we can pray for people who do wrong is that their plans will fail, for it may be that in their frustration they will see the folly and true end of evil and be reached for God.” (Boice)
ii. “Rest assured, the enemies of Christ and his people shall have wages for their work; they shall be paid in their own coin; they loved scoffing, and they shall be filled with it.” (Spurgeon)
c. Who say, “Aha! Aha!”: This has the sense of scornful mocking. It was bad enough that David’s enemies wanted him dead; they also poured ridicule on him.
i. “Heach! heach! a note of supreme contempt.” (Clarke)
B. Praise added to the plea.
1. (4) Calling God’s people to praise.
Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You;
And let those who love Your salvation say continually,
“Let God be magnified!”
a. Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You: David called the people of God – those who seek Him and love His salvation – to be happy in Him. We sense that it would be impossible for David to do this unless he also found some measure of joy and gladness in God, despite his urgent problem.
b. Let those who love Your salvation say continually, “Let God be magnified”: David thought that to praise God was to magnify Him – that is, to make Him larger in one’s perception. Magnification does not actually make an object bigger, and we can’t make God bigger. Still, to magnify something or someone is to perceive it as bigger, and we must do that regarding God.
i. Those who love Your salvation: “All men are lovers as well as seekers; for all men love. Some love money more than God’s salvation; others love pleasure, even the pleasures of sin, more than God’s salvation; and others love bustle and business more than God’s salvation.” (Frame, cited in Spurgeon)
ii. Let God be magnified: “It does not say, let God be magnified by me if he will please to make me successful in business, and happy, and healthy, but it leaves it open. Only let God be magnified, and he may do what he wills with me.” (Spurgeon)
iii. “Nor is there any limit as to place or persons. My heart says, ‘Let God be magnified among the Wesleyans! The Lord be magnified among the Independents! The Lord be magnified among the Episcopalians! The Lord be magnified among the Baptists!’” (Spurgeon)
iv. “The doxology, ‘Let the Lord’s name be magnified,’ is infinitely more manly and ennobling than the dog’s bark of ‘Aha, aha.’” (Spurgeon)
2. (5) The plea repeated: Help quickly, O God.
But I am poor and needy;
Make haste to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer;
O LORD, do not delay.
a. But I am poor and needy: David could combine his sense of great joy in God with a realistic appraisal of his present need. Secure in the truth that God cared for and thought about him, David again appealed to God to be his help and deliverer, and he needed God to do this without delay.
i. Poor and needy: “I am a poor man, and a beggar – an afflicted beggar; a sense of my poverty causes me to beg.” (Clarke)
ii. Spurgeon thought that the sense of being poor and needy was also appropriate for a congregation seeking God’s blessing. “We are praying for a display of the Holy Spirit’s power in this church, and, in order to have successful pleading in this matter, it is necessary that we should unanimously make the confession of our text, ‘I am poor and needy.’ We must own that we are powerless in this business.” (Spurgeon)
iii. Poor and needy: “With such a Father and such a Friend, poverty becometh rich, and weakness itself is strong.” (Horne)
iv. The request is repeated again for emphasis: Make haste to me, O God! “But God is making haste. On the wings of every hour, quicker than light leaps from world to world, He is on his way. Delays are not denials, but are necessary to the perfecting of his arrangements.” (Meyer)
b. You are my help and my deliverer: David appealed to God on the grounds that he had no other help or deliverer. He would not look to self or the gods of the nations. God would answer this complete dependence upon Him.
(c) 2020 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – firstname.lastname@example.org