Psalm 32 -The Blessings of Forgiveness, Protection, and Guidance
This psalm is simply titled A Psalm of David. A Contemplation. According to James Montgomery Boice, the Hebrew word for Contemplation (maskil) might be better understood as “instruction.” This is the first of twelve psalms with this title.It is full of instruction and contemplation, and it is worthy of meditation, as indicated by the frequent repetition of Selah, three times in only eleven verses.
The psalm itself does not tell us the specific occasion in David’s life which prompted this song. In Psalm 51 – which was clearly written after David’s sin with Bathsheba and against Uriah – David promised to “teach transgressors Your ways” (Psalm 51:13), and this psalm may be the fulfillment of that vow. John Trapp said that Psalm 32 and Psalm 51 are “tuned together.”
“It is a Psalm of penitence, but it is also the song of a ransomed soul rejoicing in the wonders of the grace of God. Sin is dealt with; sorrow is comforted; ignorance is instructed.” (G. Campbell Morgan)
“This was Saint Augustine’s favorite psalm. Augustine had it inscribed on the wall next to his bed before he died in order to meditate on it better.” (James Montgomery Boice)
A. The great blessing of sin forgiven.
1. (1-2) The blessing of forgiven sin described.
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit.
a. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven: David spoke of the great blessing there is for the man or woman who knows the forgiveness of God. His sin is no longer exposed; it is covered.
i. “The word blessed is in the plural, oh, the blessednesses! The double joys, the bundles of happiness, the mountains of delight!” (Spurgeon)
ii. Psalm 1 tells the way to be blessed: Don’t walk in the counsel of the ungodly, don’t stand in the path of sinners, but delight in God’s word – thinking deeply on it all the time. Yet if one has failed to do this and fallen into sin, Psalm 32 shows another way to be blessed – to make full confession and repentance of sin.
iii. David had great opportunity to know this blessedness in his own life. This great man of God – a man after God’s heart – nevertheless had some significant seasons of sin and what may be called backsliding or spiritual decline. Notable among these were David’s time at Ziklag (1 Samuel 27, 29, 30) and David’s sin regarding Bathsheba and Uriah (2 Samuel 11). After both occasions, David came to confession, repentance, and forgiveness.
iv. Therefore, David knew what it was like to be a guilty sinner. He knew the seriousness of sin and how good it is to be truly forgiven. He knew – as Paul would later state in Romans 4:6-8 – the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works. If David were judged on works alone, the righteous God must condemn him; nevertheless he knew by experience, blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
v. “Sin is an odious thing, the devil’s drivel or vomit, the corruption of a dead soul, the filthiness of flesh and spirit. Get a cover for it, therefore.” (Trapp)
b. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity: David spoke of real forgiveness by the declaration of God, not merely the quieting of a noisy conscience or an imagined peace with God. This was a standing with God declared and given, not earned.
i. In these first two verses, David used three words to describe sin.
· The idea behind transgression is crossing a line, defying authority.
· The idea behind sin is falling short of or missing a mark.
· The idea behind iniquity is of crookedness and distortion.
ii. In the first two verses, David used three terms to describe what God does to put away sin.
· The idea behind forgiven is the lifting of a burden or a debt.
· The idea behind covered is that of sacrificial blood covering sin.
· The idea behind does not impute is bookkeeping; it does not count against a person.
iii. “The psalmist declares that the forgiveness of sin, of whatever kind – whether against God or man, whether great or small, whether conscientious or inadvertent, or whether by omission or commission – is to be found in God.” (VanGemeren)
c. And in whose spirit there is no deceit: The prior life of sin and double-living was over for David, the repentant and forgiven sinner. The forgiven life needs no more deceit to cover one’s ways.
i. “You must all have noticed in David’s case that after he had fallen into his foul sin with Bathsheba he ceased to exhibit that transparent truth-speaking character which had charmed us so much before.” (Spurgeon)
ii. “The lesson from the whole is this: be honest. Sinner, may God make you honest. Do not deceive yourself. Make a clean breast of it before God. Have an honest religion, or have none at all. Have a religion of the heart, or else have none. Put aside the mere vestment and garment of piety, and let your soul be right within. Be honest.” (Spurgeon)
2. (3-4) The agony of unconfessed, hidden sin.
When I kept silent, my bones grew old
Through my groaning all the day long.
For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me;
My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah
a. When I kept silent, my bones grew old: The now-forgiven David remembered his spiritual and mental state when he kept his sin hidden and was silent instead of confessing and repenting. The stress of a double life and unconfessed sin made him feel old, oppressed, and dry.
i. “I kept silence, not merely I was silent, I kept silence, resolutely, perseveringly; I kept it notwithstanding all the remembrance of my past mercies, notwithstanding my reproaches of conscience, and my anguish of heart.” (Evans, cited in Spurgeon)
ii. “If David’s symptoms are exception, his stubbornness is common enough.” (Kidner)
b. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me: No doubt David was slow to acknowledge this, yet in looking back he understood that his misery was directly connected to the oppression of unresolved sin and rebellion against God.
i. “God’s hand is very helpful when it uplifts, but it is awful when it presses down: better a world on the shoulder, like Atlas, than God’s hand on the heart, like David.” (Spurgeon)
ii. David seemed to ache under the result of his sin (guilt and the lack of true fellowship with God) more than the sin itself. Ideally we are all terribly grieved by sin itself, but there is something to be said for confession and humility for the sake of the result of our sins.
c. My vitality was turned into the drought of summer: David’s dryness and misery were actually a good thing. They demonstrated that he was in fact a son of God, and that the covenant God would not allow him to remain comfortable in habitual or unconfessed sin. One who feels no misery or dryness in such a state has far greater concerns for time and eternity.
i. “The pain of a blow upon an ulcerated part, however exquisite, is well compensated for, if, by promoting a discharge, it effect a cure.” (Horne)
ii. This work of the Holy Spirit, convicting the man or woman of God of his or her sin and hardness of heart, is an essential mark of those who truly belong to God. The consideration of this work is so important that David gave the pause for meditative consideration, Selah. “The Selah indicates a swell or prolongation of the accompaniment, to emphasise this terrible picture of a soul gnawing itself.” (Maclaren)
3. (5) The goodness of confession and forgiveness.
I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I have not hidden.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
a. I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden: David’s first problem was the sin he committed – in this context, probably the immorality with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband to cover the immorality. David’s second problem was the double life he lived to hide those sins. It was only as David was ready to repent and end the second problem that God would graciously forgive the first problem.
b. I will confess my transgressions to the LORD: Forgiveness was ready and waiting for David as he agreed with God about the nature and guilt of his sin. Restoration was ready, but the confession of sin was the path to it.
i. Before the communion service in the English Prayer Book, the minister is instructed to give this invitation: “Come to me or to some other discreet and learned minister of God’s word, and open your grief; that by the ministry of God’s holy Word you may receive the benefit of absolution.” There can be great value to opening one’s grief.
ii. Real, deep, genuine confession of sin has been a feature of every genuine awakening or revival in the past 250 years. But it isn’t anything new, as demonstrated by the revival in Ephesus recorded in Acts 19:17-20: many who believed came confessing and telling their deeds. Christians were getting right with God, and open confession was part of it.
iii. “Ah! but there are too many who make confession, having no broken hearts, no streaming eyes, no flowing tears, no humbled spirits. Know ye this, that ten thousand confessions, if they are made by hardened hearts, if they do not spring from really contrite spirits, they shall be only additions to your guilt as they are mockeries before the Most High.” (Spurgeon)
c. And You forgave the iniquity of my sin: David’s confession of sin did not earn forgiveness of his sins, but he did receive it. Fellowship with God was restored. David confessed and experienced this forgiveness immediately, just as the prodigal son confessed and was immediately forgiven. There was no probation, no wait-and-see period.
i. “Were angels to descend from heaven, to comfort the dejected spirit of a sinner, they could say nothing more effectual for the purpose, than what is said in the verse of our Psalm.” (Horne)
ii. Adam Clarke on the Selah in Psalm 32:5: “This is all true; I know it; I felt it; I feel it.”
B. Blessings for the pardoned: protection and guidance.
1. (6-7) The blessing of God’s protection.
For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You
In a time when You may be found;
Surely in a flood of great waters
They shall not come near him.
You are my hiding place;
You shall preserve me from trouble;
You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah
a. For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You: Knowing that God is so great in forgiving mercy gives the godly a greater reason to seek God in the confidence that He may be found, and is therefore ready to connect with His servant.
i. “Coming where it does, its call for a teachable spirit drives home the lesson of verses 1-5 in a positive form. If forgiveness is good, fellowship is better.” (Kidner)
b. Surely in a flood of great waters they shall not come near him: David knew what it was to be overwhelmed and mired in the guilt and misery of sin – and that God could deliver in that crisis and others.
c. You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance: Setting one term upon another, David gloried in the protection he now felt as one in fellowship with God and under His care.
· God Himself was his hiding place, a secure shelter. A good hiding place has strength and height, is not easily seen, and is reliable. In more modern phrasing we might say that Jesus is our safe-room or panic-room.
· David found security surrounded by God’s own songs of deliverance, sung in the joy and confidence of victory.
i. The idea of God as our hiding place is also associated with the idea of finding shelter in the house of the Lord, in His own presence. This is indicated by the use of the same Hebrew phrasing in two earlier psalms.
· For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle… (Psalm 27:5).
· You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence (Psalm 31:20).
ii. “Observe that the same man who in the fourth verse was oppressed by the presence of God, here finds a shelter in him. See what honest confession and full forgiveness will do!” (Spurgeon)
2. (8-9) God appeals to His people to pay attention and gain understanding.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will guide you with My eye.
Do not be like the horse or like the mule,
Which have no understanding,
Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle,
Else they will not come near you.
a. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye: Here David prophetically spoke in God’s voice unto His people. Through this, God promised to instruct, teach, and guide His people.
b. I will guide you with My eye: The idea is of one who waits upon another so attentively that a mere look at the eye indicates the will. A butler waiting upon his master at dinner can illustrate this; the master need only look at the salt shaker and the butler understands that he wants it. God promised that for those who diligently seek and focus on God, He will also guide.
i. This is a great blessing that comes from being forgiven and having fellowship restored. In David’s season of guilt and misery, he did not (so to speak) look upon God for the guidance of His eye, and therefore he could not receive it. When fellowship was restored, the blessing of such close relationship could be enjoyed again.
ii. Many modern translators put the sense as merely God watching over the believer, which is true. Yet since the context in the following lines regards guidance and responsiveness to the Lord, it’s fair to render the lines as the King James and New King James versions do.
c. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding: The horse and the mule are used as examples of animals that are not easily guided. They need the bit and bridle, and sometimes rigorous training, before they are useful to the master.
i. “The horse and the mule are turned with difficulty; they must be constrained with bit and bridle. Do not be like them; do not oblige your Maker to have continual recourse to afflictions, trials, and severe dispensations of providence, to keep you in the way, or to recover you after you have gone out of it.” (Clarke)
d. Else they will not come near you: David understood this to describe his condition in his season of unconfessed sin – he was like a stubborn animal that could only be guided through pain or severity. God allowed the Amalekites to devastate David and his men (1 Samuel 30). God sent Nathan to speak sharply to David in his sin (2 Samuel 12).
i. Like a stubborn animal, David would not come near to God until he had these terrible experiences. God speaks to us through David’s experience and says, “Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding.”
3. (10-11) The blessings of mercy and joy.
Many sorrows shall be to the wicked;
But he who trusts in the LORD, mercy shall surround him.
Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous;
And shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
a. Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; but he who trusts in the LORD, mercy shall surround him: David understood what it was to live (at least for a season) as the wicked, and the sorrows that came with it. The repentant David then had a renewed experience of the mercy of God surrounding him.
b. Be glad in the Lord and rejoice: This psalm gives repeated and compelling reasons for the believer to be glad, to rejoice, to shout for joy. The psalm appropriately ends with a call for God’s people to remember and respond to those reasons.
· Remember the blessedness of forgiveness.
· Remember the redemption from guilt.
· Remember the release from the hypocrisy and stress of double-living.
· Remember the protection God gives His people.
· Remember the guidance of the LORD.
(c) 2020 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – firstname.lastname@example.org
Psalm 31 – Shelter from Trouble in the Secret Place of God’s Presence
This psalm is simply titled To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. Charles Spurgeon rightly said regarding the title of this psalm,“The dedication to the chief musician proves that this song of mingled measures and alternate strains of grief and woe was intended for public singing, and thus a deathblow is given to the notion that nothing but praise should be sung.” We have no definite marking place in David’s life for this psalm because he was so often in trouble. It resonates with deep and personal trust in God in the depths of difficulty.
An interesting feature of this psalm is that it is often quoted in other passages of Scripture.
- The author of Psalm 71 (possibly David himself) quotes the first three verses of Psalm 31 to start Psalm 71.
- Jonah seems to quote Psalm 31:6 in Jonah 2:8, his prayer from the belly of the great fish.
- Jeremiah quoted Psalm 31:13 six times, in Jeremiah 6:25; 20:3; 20:10; 46:5; 49:29, and Lamentations 2:22.
- Paul quoted Psalm 31:24 in 1 Corinthians 16:13 (according to Adam Clarke, this is more clear in the Septuagint – the early Greek translation of the Old Testament).
- Most significantly, Psalm 31:5 was quoted by Jesus Christ on the cross as His final words before yielding His life (Luke 23:46). Stephen, the first martyr of the church, also alluded to Psalm 31:5 (Acts 7:59).
A. A plea for rescue, and confidence in God’s answer.
1. (1) Trusting the God who delivers His people.
In You, O LORD, I put my trust;
Let me never be ashamed;
Deliver me in Your righteousness.
a. In You, O LORD, I put my trust: This psalm of David begins in a similar way to many of his other psalms – with a declaration of trust in God in a time of trouble. We do not know the precise nature or time of the trouble, other than it severely afflicted David (Psalm 31:9-13) and made him despair of life. Nevertheless, David proclaimed his trust in the LORD.
b. Let me never be ashamed: David’s bold declaration of trust showed that he was not ashamed to call upon the LORD. He considered it appropriate that God answered by never allowing His servant to never be ashamed before his enemies and adversaries.
c. Deliver me in Your righteousness: Because David trusted in God, he asked God to act righteously on his behalf, and to deliver him. He asked that the righteousness of God work on his behalf.
i. Early in the 16th Century, a German monk and seminary professor named Martin Luther taught through Psalms, verse-by-verse, at the University of Wittenberg. In his teaching he came upon this statement in Psalm 31:1 (31:2 in German). The passage confused him; how could God’s righteousness deliver him? The righteousness of God – His great justice – could only condemn him to hell as a righteous punishment for his sins.
ii. One night up in a tower in the monastery, Luther thought about this passage in Psalms and also read Romans 1:17: For in it [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed. Luther said he thought about this day and night, until he finally understood what the righteousness of God revealed by the gospel is. It is not speaking of the holy righteousness of God that condemns the guilty sinner, but of the God-kind of righteousness that is given to the sinner who puts his trust in Jesus Christ.
iii. Luther said of this experience: “I grasped the truth that the righteousness of God is that righteousness whereby, through grace and sheer mercy, he justifies us by faith. Therefore I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise….. This passage of Paul became to me a gateway into heaven.” Martin Luther was born again, and the reformation began in his heart. One great Lutheran scholar said this was “the happiest day in Luther’s life.”
2. (2-4) A plea for rescue based on relationship.
Bow down Your ear to me,
Deliver me speedily;
Be my rock of refuge,
A fortress of defense to save me.
For You are my rock and my fortress;
Therefore, for Your name’s sake,
Lead me and guide me.
Pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me,
For You are my strength.
a. Bow down…deliver me…be my rock: In the previous verse David established the basis of God’s rescue: deliver me in Your righteousness. David then called on God to act righteously on behalf of His needy servant, to rescue and protect him.
i. Clarke on bow down Your ear to me: “Put thy ear to my lips, that thou mayest hear all that my feebleness is capable of uttering. We generally put our ear near to the lips of the sick and dying, that we may hear what they say. To this the text appears to allude.”
ii. David asked, be my rock of refuge, a fortress of defense to save me; then he said, for You are my rock and my fortress. Maclaren suggested that David’s thougt was, “Be what Thou art; manifest Thyself in act to be what Thou art in nature: be what I, Thy poor servant, have taken Thee to be. My heart has clasped Thy revelation of Thyself and fled to this strong tower.”
iii. “‘You are…then be…,’ should be the prayer of every Christian.” (Boice)
b. Therefore, for Your name’s sake, lead me and guide me: David did not ask for rescue because he was so good, but for Your name’s sake. David believed that if God would lead and guide him, it would bring honor to God and His name.
c. Pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me: David knew his enemies wanted to trap and destroy him, but he also knew that God could rescue him even from clever and determined enemies.
3. (5-8) David’s confidence in the LORD.
“In this turn of the stream, faith does not so much supplicate as meditate.” (Maclaren)
Into Your hand I commit my spirit;
You have redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.
I have hated those who regard useless idols;
But I trust in the LORD.
I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy,
For You have considered my trouble;
You have known my soul in adversities,
And have not shut me up into the hand of the enemy;
You have set my feet in a wide place.
a. Into Your hand I commit my spirit: David asked to be delivered from his enemies and their snares, but not so he could live unto himself. He utterly cast himself upon God, committing the deepest part of himself to God.
i. Jesus expressed His total surrender and submission to God on the cross when He quoted this line from Psalm 31. Luke 23:46 records that Jesus said, Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit – and then Jesus gave His last breath on the cross. “Thus he does not surrender his life despondingly to death for destruction, but with triumphant consciousness to the Father for resurrection.” (Lange, cited in Spurgeon)
ii. Yet this committal of the soul unto God the Father is not reserved for David and the Son of David alone. Stephen, the first martyr of the church had the idea of this text in mind with his final words (Acts 7:59).
iii. Into Your hand I commit my spirit: “These words, as they stand in the Vulgate, were in the highest credit among our ancestors; by whom they were used in all dangers, difficulties, and in the article of death. In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum, was used by the sick when about to expire, if they were sensible; and if not, the priest said it in their behalf.” (Clarke)
iv. “These were the last words of Polycarp, of Bernard, of Huss, of Jerome of Prague, of Luther, of Melancthon, and many others.” (Perowne, cited in Spurgeon)
v. “When John Huss was condemned to be burned at the stake, the bishop who conducted the ceremony ended with the chilling words, ‘And now we commit thy soul to the devil.’ Huss replied calmly, ‘I commit my spirit into thy hands, Lord Jesus Christ; unto thee I commend my spirit, which thou hast redeemed.’” (Boice)
b. You have redeemed me: David understood that his surrender to God was appropriate because it was God who had redeemed him. He belonged to God both in gratitude for rescue, and in recognition that God had purchased him.
i. “In the Old Testament the word ‘redeem’ (pada) is seldom used of atonement: it mostly means to rescue or ransom out of trouble.” (Kidner)
ii. “Redemption is a solid basis for confidence. David had not known Calvary as we have done, but temporal redemption cheered him; and shall not eternal redemption yet more sweetly console us? Past deliverances are strong pleas for present assistance.” (Spurgeon)
c. O LORD God of truth: This is a second reason why it was good and appropriate for David to surrender his life to God – because God is the God of truth, and the truth demanded David’s service and allegiance. David cared about what was true.
d. I have hated those who regard useless idols: David’s surrender to God meant that he also had to resist the recognition or worship of idols – which are useless idols, having no power to speak or save. In contrast David could say, “But I trust in the LORD.”
e. I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy: David’s surrender and submission to God didn’t produce misery – he was happy and joyful. Much of this was because his heart overflowed with gratitude, thinking of all God had done for him.
· You have considered my trouble: David was happy because he knew God did not ignore him in his time of trouble.
· You have known my soul in adversities: David was happy because he knew God had deep, substantial knowledge of David – even to the soul – in his seasons of adversities.
· And have not shut me up into the hand of the enemy: David was happy because he knew that God answered (or would answer) his prayer to be delivered from the snares of his enemies.
· You have set my feet in a wide place: David was happy because God did not only preserve him from enemies, but He also set David in a place of safety and security.
i. You have considered my trouble; You have known my soul in adversities: “When we are so bewildered as not to know our own state, he knows us altogether. He has known us and will know us: O for grace to know more of him! ‘Man, know thyself,’ is a good philosophic precept, but ‘Man, thou art known of God,’ is a superlative consolation.” (Spurgeon)
B. Trouble and trust.
1. (9-13) David describes the depths of his trouble.
Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am in trouble;
My eye wastes away with grief,
Yes, my soul and my body!
For my life is spent with grief,
And my years with sighing;
My strength fails because of my iniquity,
And my bones waste away.
I am a reproach among all my enemies,
But especially among my neighbors,
And am repulsive to my acquaintances;
Those who see me outside flee from me.
I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind;
I am like a broken vessel.
For I hear the slander of many;
Fear is on every side;
While they take counsel together against me,
They scheme to take away my life.
a. Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am in trouble: The previous section of this psalm ended with calm trust and gratitude to God. Here David once again took up the lament, showing that both rest and adversity come to God’s people in seasons. Yet in his trouble, David looks again to the LORD.
i. “It is as if David is riding an emotional roller coaster. Or, as if he is riding a wave from one high crest to a trough and then back to another high crest in closing.” (Boice)
ii. My soul and my body: Literally, body is belly. “…i.e. my bowels contained in my belly; which was the seat of the affections, and fountains of support and nourishment to the whole body. Thus the whole man, both soul and body, inside and outside, are consumed.” (Poole)
b. My eye wastes away with grief: David described his pitiful condition in terms that seem to be taken from the Book of Job. His affliction was
· Physical (my strength fails…my bones waste away). “The poetical expression need not imply that he is physically sick but could mean that his mental anguish has sapped his physical strength, to a point approaching death.” (VanGemeren)
· Emotional (my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing…fear is on every side).
· Social (a reproach among all my enemies…repulsive to my acquaintances).
· Mortal (they take counsel together against me, they scheme to take away my life).
· Spiritual (because of my iniquity).
i. “Here the feelings of confidence ebb away in a flood of tears.” (VanGemeren)
c. I am forgotten like a dead man, out of mind; I am like a broken vessel: With poetry and power, David expressed how complete his difficulty was.
i. I am a reproach among all my enemies: “If anyone strives after patience and humility, he is a hypocrite. If he allows himself in the pleasures of this world, he is a glutton. If he seeks justice, he is impatient; if he seeks it not, he is a fool. If he would be prudent, he is stingy; if he would make others happy, he is dissolute. If he gives himself up to prayer, he is vainglorious. And this is the great loss of the church, that by means like these many are held back from goodness in which the Psalmist lamenting says, ‘I became a reproof among all mine enemies.’” (Chrysostom, cited in Spurgeon)
ii. Those who see me outside flee from me: “Either loathing me as a monster of men, and an unlucky spectacle, and such a villain as mine enemies represented me, and they believed me to be; or to prevent their own danger and ruin, which might be occasioned by it.” (Poole)
iii. I hear the slander of many: “A man had better be dead than be smothered in slander. Of the dead we say nothing but good, but in the Psalmist’s case they said nothing but evil.” (Spurgeon)
d. Fear is on every side; while they take counsel together against me, they scheme to take away my life: David seemed almost overwhelmed by the dangers around him, but only almost and not completely.
i. “This was literally true during much of David’s reign. The kingdom was surrounded by hostile neighbors, just as the present nation of Israel is surrounded by hostile Arab neighbors. But David may also be thinking of plots within his kingdom by Jewish enemies or of the days he had to flee from King Saul.” (Boice)
2. (14-18) In the midst of all his trouble, David declares his trust in God.
But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in Your hand;
Deliver me from the hand of my enemies,
And from those who persecute me.
Make Your face shine upon Your servant;
Save me for Your mercies’ sake.
Do not let me be ashamed, O LORD, for I have called upon You;
Let the wicked be ashamed;
Let them be silent in the grave.
Let the lying lips be put to silence,
Which speak insolent things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous.
a. But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD: However great David’s troubles were, his trust in God was even greater. He took careful inventory of his crisis but would not dwell on it. He understood that Yahweh was his God (You are my God) and therefore greater than all his trouble.
b. My times are in Your hand: David could not bear the thought of being given over to the hand of his enemies, but he was completely at peace (and even happy) with the knowledge, “My times are in Your hand.”
i. David could say my times are in Your hand because He understood that God was in control and ruled from heaven. Yet he also said this because in faith he had committed all things into God’s hand.
ii. Late in David’s life. he sinned by taking an unauthorized census of Israel. God presented him with the option of three punishments. David chose the punishment that would most completely set them in the hands of the Lord, explaining: Please let us fall into the hand of the LORD, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man (2 Samuel 24:14).
iii. Boice saw in all this an application to the seasons of life for the Christian.
· The times of our youth are in God’s hand, times when often we are subject to the decisions others make for us.
· The times of our maturity are in God’s hand, times when we should be about our Father’s business and face both apparent success and failure in it.
· The times of our old age are in God’s hand, when God will care for us and bless those days as much as the others.
iv. G. Campbell Morgan saw in the words “my times” and in the entire psalm an allusion to the seasons of Christian experience. Morgan added the thought, “We need them all to complete our year!”
· Autumn (Psalm 31:1-8): “With its winds and gathering clouds, yet having sunlight and a golden fruitage even though the breath of death is everywhere.”
· Winter (Psalm 31:9-13): “Chill and lifeless, full of sobs and sighing.”
· Spring (Psalm 31:14-18): “With its hope and expectation and its sweeping rains and bursting sun gleams.”
· Summer (Psalm 31:19-24): “At last the bright and golden summer.”
v. “If we believe that all our times are in God’s hand, we shall be expecting great things from our heavenly Father. When we get into a difficulty we shall say, ‘I am now going to see the wonders of God, and to learn again how surely he delivers them that trust in him.’” (Spurgeon)
c. Make Your face to shine upon Your servant: David borrowed from the priestly blessing described in Numbers 6:23-27, asking for the goodness and the favor of God to be showered upon him.
d. Let the wicked be ashamed; let them be silent in the grave: David asked God to do to his enemies that which his enemies wished to do unto David.
i. Do not let me be ashamed: “…i.e. Disappointed of my hopes.” (Trapp)
C. Praise, both personal and public.
1. (19-22) David praises God on a personal level.
Oh, how great is Your goodness,
Which You have laid up for those who fear You,
Which You have prepared for those who trust in You
In the presence of the sons of men!
You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence
From the plots of man;
You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion
From the strife of tongues.
Blessed be the LORD,
For He has shown me His marvelous kindness in a strong city!
For I said in my haste,
“I am cut off from before Your eyes”;
Nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications
When I cried out to You.
a. Oh, how great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You: The same David who knew such trouble in Psalm 31:9-13 praised God so completely at the end of the song. This is because David had a deep trust in God (as reflected in Psalm 31:14-18), and that trust was rewarded with joy.
b. You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence: Attacked by so many enemies and so many troubles, David found security in the secret place of God’s presence. There was comfort and strength in the hidden place of God’s presence, of true fellowship with Him.
i. There are many followers of Jesus Christ who seem to know very little of the secret place of God’s presence. They regard it as only a thing for mystics or the super-spiritual. Yet David was a warrior and man well acquainted with the realities of life. It is true that the life of the spirit seems to come more easily for some than others, but there is an aspect of the secret place of God’s presence that is for everyone who puts his trust in Him.
ii. In the secret place of Your presence: “‘With the covering of thy countenance.’ Their life shall be so hidden with Christ in God, that their enemies shall not be able to find them out. To such a hiding-place Satan himself dare not approach. There the pride of man cannot come.” (Clarke)
c. From the plots of man; you shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues: The presence of God was so secure for David that he found refuge from not only the plots of his enemies, but even from the attacks of their words (the strife of tongues).
d. For I said in my haste, “I am cut off from before Your eyes”: Earlier in his time of trouble, David hastily said and felt that God had forgotten him and no longer saw him with favor. Yet when David cried out to God, He heard the voice of David’s supplication.
2. (23-24) A call for all God’s people to praise Him.
Oh, love the LORD, all you His saints!
For the LORD preserves the faithful,
And fully repays the proud person.
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart,
All you who hope in the LORD.
a. Oh, love the LORD, all you His saints: David’s experience with God could not be kept to himself. He had to use what God had done in his life as the motivation and lesson to exhort all God’s saints to love the LORD.
i. “The psalmist has been absorbed with his own troubles till now, but thankfulness expands his vision, and suddenly there is with him a multitude of fellow-dependents on God’s goodness. He hungers alone, but he feasts in company.” (Maclaren)
ii. “Do we, if we are called the saints of the Lord, need to be exhorted to love him? If we do, shame upon us! And we do, I am quite sure; so let us be ashamed and confounded that it should ever be needful to urge us to love our Lord.” (Spurgeon)
iii. A soul that truly loves God does not lack any reasons for loving Him. God gives us many reasons to love Him. Spurgeon said of the call to love the LORD, “it has a thousand arguments to enforce it.”
· Love God because of the excellence of His character.
· Love God because it is such a pleasant and profitable exercise.
· Love God because it is so beneficial to do so.
· Love God because it is the way to be cleansed from sin.
· Love God because it will strengthen you in times of trial.
· Love God because it will strengthen you for service.
· Love God because it is most ennobling.
iv. “You may pull up the sluices of your being, and let all your life-floods flow forth in this saved stream, for you cannot love God too much. Some passions of our nature may be exaggerated; and, towards certain objects, they may be carried too far; but the heart, when it is turned towards God, can never be too warm, nor too excited, nor too firmly fixed on the divine object: ‘O love the Lord, all ye his saints.’” (Spurgeon)
b. The LORD preserves the faithful, and fully repays the proud person: Both aspects are true. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. This encouragement to praise God has a warning to those who refuse to do so.
c. Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the LORD: David closed this psalm as a true leader and friend, encouraging others to find what he had found in God. God’s people have reason for good courage, because God does strengthen the trusting, hoping heart.
i. Be of good courage: “Dear friends, if you want to get out of diffidence, and timidity, and despondency, you must rouse yourselves up. This is incumbent upon you, for the text puts it so: ‘Be of good courage.’ Do not sit still, and rub your eyes, and say, ‘I cannot help it, I must always be dull like this.’ You must not be so; in the name of God, you are commanded in the text to ‘be of good courage.’ If you are indolent, like that, you must not expect the grace of God to operate upon you as though you were a block of wood, and could be made into something against your will. Oh, no! You must determine to be of good courage.” (Spurgeon)
(c) 2020 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – email@example.com
Psalm 30 – Remembering the Greatness of God at a Great Event
This psalm has a unique title: A Psalm. A Song at the dedication of the house of David. Though the title of the psalm (as it is in the English translation) indicates it was written for the dedication of David’s palace, Charles Spurgeon (and Adam Clarke) thought that it was actually written prophetically for the dedication of the temple – which David prepared for, but Solomon built. Nevertheless, we take this psalm as being written for the dedication of David’s palace. It says nothing about the house itself; rather the focus is on God and the greatness of His deliverance. At the dedication of David’s house, David wanted God to be praised, not himself.
Matthew Poole on A Song: “This Hebrew word schir may be here taken not simply for a song, but for a joyful song, as it is in Genesis 31:27; Exodus 15:1; Psalm 33:3.”
A. David gives thanks to the LORD.
1. (1) Thanks for victory over enemies.
I will extol You, O LORD, for You have lifted me up,
And have not let my foes rejoice over me.
a. I will extol You, O LORD: At the dedication of his own house, David did not extol himself – rather, the LORD. What might have been understood as the achievement of a man was instead the occasion for praising God.
i. 2 Samuel 5:11-12 (and 1 Chronicles 14:1-2) describe the completion of King David’s palace: Then Hiram king of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, and carpenters and masons. And they built David a house. So David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel, and that He had exalted His kingdom for the sake of His people Israel.
ii. In this, we see that King David knew three things that made his reign great. Every godly leader should know these three things well.
· David knew that the LORD had established him as king over Israel: David knew that God called him and established him over Israel.
· He had exalted His kingdom: David knew that the kingdom belonged to God – it was His kingdom.
· For the sake of His people Israel: David knew God wanted to use him as a channel to bless His people. It was not for David’s sake that he was lifted up, but for the sake of His people Israel.
b. For You have lifted me up: This explains the core reason for David’s praise. He knew that his security and status were the work of God. It wasn’t as if God did it all as David sat passively; he was a man of energy and action. Nevertheless, it was God’s work far more than his own.
i. “The verbal phrase ‘you lifted me’ is a metaphorical usage of a verb meaning ‘to draw up out of the water’ (cf. Exodus 2:16, 19). Like a bucket that was lowered down in a well and then raised to draw water up, so the Lord pulled the psalmist out of the grips of Sheol.” (VanGemeren)
ii. “Grace has uplifted us from the pit of hell, from the ditch of sin, from the Slough of Despond, from the bed of sickness, from the bondage of doubts and fears: have we no song to offer for all this?” (Spurgeon)
c. And have not let my foes rejoice over me: For David, this was a significant part of God’s victory on his behalf. He was constantly confronted by foes, and God protected him and made him the winner in regard to them.
2. (2) Thanks for healing.
O LORD my God, I cried out to You,
And You healed me.
a. I cried out to You: David lived a prayerful dependence upon God. God helped, but David cried out and prayed unto Him.
b. And You healed me: No doubt there were many times when David received healing from God from both illness and injury. Yet the idea of healing is also broad enough to include the sense of God’s help and rescue from any great need.
i. Many commentators believe that David remembered when God saved his life from a life-threatening illness. “It has similarities to Hezekiah’s psalm of praise after his sickness (Isaiah 38:10-20).” (VanGemeren)
3. (3) Thanks for preservation of life.
O LORD, You brought my soul up from the grave;
You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.
a. You have brought my soul up from the grave: We don’t know if David here described what we might call a near-death experience or if it would be more like a narrow escape from death. Either way, in his life as a soldier and leader, he had more than one time when death was near, and God rescued his soul from death.
b. You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit: David wasn’t immortal: one day his body would die and he would pass from this life to the next. Yet there were many occasions when God delayed his eventual death, not allowing him to go down to the pit.
i. “To the pit, i.e. into the grave, which is oft called the pit, as in Psalm 28:1; Psalm 69:15; Psalm 88:4; Isaiah 38:17.” (Poole)
ii. As we think of this psalm as being sung at a dedication ceremony for David’s palace, it was instructive for David to say to all, “You see the strength of my kingdom and the splendor of this palace. All seems good and secure on a day like today. Yet no one should forget that there were many times my life was in great danger and I was close to death. Praise the God who delivered me.”
B. The testimony of a tested man.
1. (4) The exhortation to praise.
Sing praise to the LORD, you saints of His,
And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.
a. Sing praise to the LORD, you saints of His: Remembering the great works of God did not only cause David to praise, but also caused him to compel others to praise Him. It was fitting, because they also were saints of His, His special people.
i. “He felt that he could not praise God enough himself, and therefore he would enlist the hearts of others.” (Spurgeon)
b. Give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name: Giving thanks is another way to praise God for His goodness, and is also good manners.
2. (5) The reason for praise.
For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for life;
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.
a. His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life: After calling God’s people to praise, King David then gave them more reasons for it. Here he rejoiced that the anger of God may be real but momentary, while His favor (acceptance, pleasure) is lasting, even for life.
i. This is a contrast between the momentary nature of God’s anger with His people and the lasting favor He holds them in. In New Testament vocabulary we might say that the correction or discipline of God is for a moment, but His grace abides forever.
ii. “This description of God’s slowness to anger, and readiness to save, is given by a man long and deeply acquainted with God as his Judge and as his Father.” (Clarke)
b. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning: Almost certainly, David said this as a testimony from his own life. There were many tearful nights, followed by joyful mornings – perhaps with the recognition that the mercies of God to His people are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).
i. Weeping may endure for a night: “…(literally, ‘will spend the night’) is a poetic expression of how weeping personified may spend the night with him, only to be gone by morning.” (VanGemeren)
ii. “By itself, this passage could mean, merely, ‘into each life a little rain must fall’ or ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ or ‘you’ve got to take the bad with the good’ or ‘cheer up, things will get better’…. But what David is talking about is God’s disfavor versus his favor, expressed in the experiences of life. His conviction is that the favor always outweighs the disfavor for God’s people.” (Boice)
iii. “Night and morning are contrasted, as are weeping and joy; and the latter contrast is more striking, if it be observed that ‘joy’ is literally ‘a joyful shout,’ raised by the voice that had been breaking into audible weeping.” (Maclaren)
iv. This is an emphasis on the certainty of God’s comfort and joy to His people. Morning always follows night, and the weeping believer may be confident that as he keeps his focus on God, He will bring him once again to joy. “‘Weeping may endure for a night’: but nights are not for ever.” (Spurgeon)
v. “This is a most beautiful and affecting image of the sufferings and exaltation of Christ…of the night of death, and the morning of the resurrection.” (Horne)
3. (6-7) David’s troubled testimony.
Now in my prosperity I said,
“I shall never be moved.”
LORD, by Your favor You have made my mountain stand strong;
You hid Your face, and I was troubled.
a. In my prosperity I said, “I shall never be moved”: One may wonder if David said (or sung) this to an assembly at the dedication of his palace and smiled at this line. It seems to communicate an overconfident assurance born of a season of prosperity.
i. “We are never in greater danger than in the sunshine of prosperity. To be always indulged of God, and never to taste of trouble, is rather a token of God’s neglect than of his tender love.” (Struther, cited in Spurgeon)
ii. “Self-satisfaction cannot praise Jehovah. Therefore it must be corrected by discipline. The final note of praise shows that through affliction and by deliverance the lesson has been learned.” (Morgan)
b. LORD, by Your favor You have made my mountain stand strong: King David confessed that the strength of his life and kingdom was not due to his prosperity, but to the favor of God.
i. The palace of King David in Jerusalem (discovered by archaeologists) is situated in the great hills of Jerusalem. We almost see King David making a gesture toward these mountains and telling everyone that it was God’s favor that made my mountain stand strong.
c. You hid Your face, and I was troubled: Without the constant sustaining work of God, David was deeply troubled. This isn’t to imply that God played a hiding game with David, constantly hiding and then revealing Himself to him. The idea is that David was completely dependent upon the presence of God, fellowship with Him, and His favor.
i. “The Hebrew word bahal signifies to be greatly troubled, to be sorely terrified, as you may see in 1 Samuel 28:21, ‘And the woman came unto Saul, and saw that he was sore troubled.’ Here is the same Hebrew word bahal.” (Brooks, cited in Spurgeon)
C. A prayer and its answer.
1. (8-10) The prayer from a time of trouble.
I cried out to You, O LORD;
And to the LORD I made supplication:
“What profit is there in my blood,
When I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise You?
Will it declare Your truth?
Hear, O LORD, and have mercy on me;
LORD, be my helper!”
a. I cried out to You, O LORD: In Psalm 30:2 King David first said that he cried out to God. This is perhaps the content of his prayer on one of those occasions.
b. What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise You? This was David’s prayer in a life-threatening situation. He made rational arguments to God, knowing that he would certainly praise God if he escaped death, but he was uncertain if he could praise God from the pit or the dust of the grave.
i. These words of King David sound strange to someone familiar with the New Testament. It seems very different from the triumphant confidence of Paul who said, to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). David seemed to see no gain in death, and therefore he pleaded that God would preserve his life.
ii. Only a shadowy understanding of the afterlife is present in the Old Testament. There are certainly moments of triumphant faith, such as when Job said, For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God (Job 19:25-26). Yet there are also moments of uncertainty, such as here in Psalm 30:8-9.
iii. It wasn’t until the New Testament that God revealed more clearly the fate of those who trust God from this life to the next. In 2 Timothy 1:10, Paul says these things have now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
iv. Therefore David logically – and rightly, according to the revelation he had – only knew with certainty that he could praise God on this side of death. It was a valid question to bring before God in prayer. “It was an argument with God, an urging of reasons, a pleading of his cause. It was not a statement of doctrinal opinions, nor a narration of experience.” (Spurgeon)
c. Hear, O LORD, and have mercy on me: Even though David prayed with rational reason, in an even greater sense he simply relied on the mercy of God. It was as if he said, “LORD, here are many good reasons for You to answer my prayer. Yet beyond all these, I simply ask for Your mercy, and ask You to be my helper.”
i. LORD, be my helper: “Another compact, expressive, ever fitting prayer. It is suitable to hundreds of the cases of the Lord’s people; it is well becoming in the minister when he is going to preach, to the sufferer upon the bed of pain, to the toiler in the field of service, to the believer under temptation, to the man of God under adversity; when God helps, difficulties vanish.” (Spurgeon)
2. (11) The joyful answer to prayer.
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
a. You have turned for me my mourning into dancing: The dedication of David’s palace was a happy event. Without specifically mentioning the dedication of the house, David used it as a reason to remember all the times God brought him from sadness to joy, from mourning to dancing.
b. You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness: Using the Hebrew literary tool of repetition for the sake of emphasis, David repeats the idea of the transition from sadness to gladness. It was a happy day, but God had also been faithful to David in more difficult times.
i. “This might be true of David, delivered from his calamity; it was true of Christ, arising from the tomb, to die no more; it is true of the penitent, exchanging his sackcloth for the garments of salvation; and it will be verified in us all, at the last day, when we shall put off the dishonours of the grave, to shine in glory everlasting.” (Horne)
ii. “My ‘sackcloth’ was but a loose garment about me, which might easily be put off at pleasure, but my ‘gladness’ is girt about me, to be fast and sure, and cannot leave me though it would; at least none shall be able to take it from me.” (Baker, cited in Spurgeon)
3. (12) God glorified and thanked for answered prayer.
To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever.
a. To the end that my glory may sing praise to You: King David revealed the primary reason for God’s transforming work in his life. It wasn’t primarily to give him palaces; it was so that David could praise the LORD and not be silent.
i. God worked in David’s life so that He would bring Himself glory and appropriate praise. Though it clearly benefited David, it was primarily for God’s own glory that He did this. This principle means that God has a special reason to bring His transforming work to lives that will give Him praise.
ii. As it says, that my glory may sing praise, indicating that King David sang those praises with passion and exuberance, welling forth from whatever glory was associated with him as a man, a soldier, and a king.
iii. Sing praise indicates that David knew that in some special way, God regards and receives praise that is presented to Him in song. We sense that to David, it would be a sin to be silent.
b. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever: King David closed this song for the dedication of his house with a determination to thank God forever. Palaces seem to be permanent things, but they eventually crumble. Yet God will rightly be thanked and praised forever.
i. “He concludeth as he began, engaging his heart to everlasting thankfulness; and therein becoming a worthy pattern to all posterity.” (Trapp)
(c) 2020 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – firstname.lastname@example.org
Psalm 29 – The Voice of the LORD in the Storm
This wonderful song is simply titled A Psalm of David. In poetic beauty it describes the strength of a storm and understands it as the voice and power of God. In so doing it repeats the name of the LORD eighteen times and uses the phrase “the voice of the LORD” seven times. “This psalm has no other elements. It is pure praise. It does not call upon us to do anything because the psalm itself is doing the only thing it is concerned about. It is praising God.” (James Montgomery Boice)
A. The command to worship the LORD.
1. (1) A word to the mighty ones.
Give unto the LORD, O you mighty ones,
Give unto the LORD glory and strength.
a. Give unto the LORD, O you mighty ones: David speaks to the mighty ones of this earth, and warns them to look away from themselves and unto the LORD God of Israel. Though they may consider themselves to be mighty ones, and be so considered by others, they still should recognize their obligation to the LORD God.
i. This psalm is notable in its emphasis on the name, “The LORD” (Yahweh), using it some 18 times in these 11 verses. This is the name taken by the covenant God of Israel, rendered by the Jews with the replacement word LORD out of reverence to the holy name.
ii. As God says in Isaiah 42:8: I am the LORD, that is My name. It is perhaps best to think of Yahweh as representing the Triune God. We may say it this way:
There is one God, Creator of all and the covenant God of Israel – His name is Yahweh. There are three persons who claim to be Yahweh: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In some way, therefore, there is One God in Three Persons.
iii. “This is the famous tetragrammaton, or name of four letters, which we write Jehovah, Yehovah, Yehveh, Yeveh, Jhuh, Javah, etc. The letters are Y H V H. The Jews never pronounce it, and the true pronunciation is utterly unknown.” (Clarke, commentary on Isaiah)
iv. Some take these mighty ones to be those regarded as great on the earth; others take them as angelic beings. “The phrase is used elsewhere to denote ‘heavenly beings’ or angels (cf. Genesis 6:2, 4; Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Psalms 82:6; 89:6). In this context the phrase may be used as a technical term for the divine assembly of heavenly beings who surround the throne of God.” (VanGemeren)
b. Give unto the LORD glory and strength: David called upon these mighty ones of the earth to recognize that the LORD has a glory and strength that far exceeds their own.
i. When they give unto the LORD these things, they are not giving or attributing things to Him that He did not have before. They are recognizing things as they really are, because God is full of glory and strength.
ii. “Neither men nor angels can confer anything upon Jehovah, but they should recognise his glory and might, and ascribe it to him in their songs and in their hearts.” (Spurgeon)
2. (2) A call to worship the worthy God.
Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name;
Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
a. Give unto the LORD the glory due His name: His name being Yahweh, this is a call to recognize the character and nature of the covenant God of Israel. God’s name is due a lot of glory; therefore it is right to call men (even the mighty ones) to worship Him.
i. Give: This is the third time this word is used in three lines. “Give, give, give. This showeth how unwilling such are usually to give God his right, or to suffer a word of exhortation to this purpose.” (Trapp)
b. Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: The idea is that man should bow in humble recognition of the greatness, the beauty, and the surpassing holiness of God.
i. “The appeal describes the praising of God as consisting of two things: ascribing glory to him, that is, acknowledging his supreme worth with our minds, and worshipping or bowing down to him (the Hebrew word means ‘to bow down’), which means a subordination of our wills and minds to him.” (Boice)
c. In the beauty of holiness: Beauty and holiness are not often connected ideas in our popular culture. Yet in reality, there is surpassing allure and attractiveness in true holiness. If a purported type of holiness has little beauty, it may be questioned whether if it is true holiness.
i. There are four Biblical passages presenting the idea of the beauty of holiness (1 Chronicles 16:29, 2 Chronicles 20:21, Psalm 29:2, and Psalm 96:9), and each of them associates worship or praise with the concept. Perceiving the beauty of holiness should compel us to true worship and praise.
ii. God’s holiness – His “set-apart-ness” – has a wonderful and distinct beauty about it. It is beautiful that God is God and not man; He is more than the greatest man or a superman. His holy love, grace, justice, and majesty are beautiful.
B. The awesome voice of the LORD.
1. (3-4) The voice of the LORD over the waters.
The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
The God of glory thunders;
The LORD is over many waters.
The voice of the LORD is powerful;
The voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
a. The voice of the LORD is over the waters: The mighty ones mentioned in the first verse of this psalm may have a high regard for their own power, but their power is nothing compared to the power of God. His authoritative voice proclaims His dominion over the waters.
i. This is the first of seven descriptions of the voice of the LORD in this psalm. Each one emphasizes the idea of the strength and authority of God expressed through His voice.
ii. The strength and authority of God’s voice is also connected to His word. If the voice of God has such power, then the words uttered with that voice have the same strength and authority.
b. The God of glory thunders: The association of thunder and the voice of the LORD suggests this psalm was prompted by David witnessing a great storm, hearing the power of thunder, and associating it with the voice of God.
i. “The thunder is not only poetically but instructively called ‘the voice of God,’ since it peals from on high; it surpasses all other sounds, it inspires awe, it is entirely independent of man, and has been used on some occasions as the grand accompaniment of God’s speech to Adam’s sons.” (Spurgeon)
ii. David saw a mighty thunderstorm and thought, “This shows me something of the power and the voice of God.” The spiritual man or woman can see something of the hand of God, or the shadow of God, in almost every event of life. “The thunder is only a poetic image for a reality, the actual voice of God, which is infinitely beyond it.” (Boice)
iii. Exodus 9:28 (in the Hebrew text) also associates the voice of God with thunder, as does Exodus 19:16, when Israel heard from God at Mount Sinai. Additionally, two passages from Job clearly make this connection:
He thunders with His majestic voice, and He does not restrain them when His voice is heard. God thunders marvelously with His voice. (Job 37:4-5)
God asked Job in Job 40:9, Or can you thunder with a voice like His?
c. The LORD is over many waters: Generally, the ancient Hebrews were not a seafaring people, and they saw the many waters of the sea as dangerous and foreboding. Yet David knew that the powerful voice of God, full of majesty, set Him over many waters.
i. The ancient Canaanites recognized deities over the sea (the god Yam) and the god of fertility and thunder (Baal). Here David recognized that Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel, was the real Master over many waters and the God of glory who thunders.
ii. Scientists calculate that a typical thunderstorm (not even the kind of great or major storm described here by David) releases around 10,000,000 kilowatt-hours of energy – the equivalent of a 20-kiloton nuclear warhead. Storms still are examples of the massive power of God.
2. (5-9) The voice of the LORD over creation.
The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars,
Yes, the LORD splinters the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes them also skip like a calf,
Lebanon and Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the LORD divides the flames of fire.
The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness;
The LORD shakes the Wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth,
And strips the forests bare;
And in His temple everyone says, “Glory!”
a. The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars: The cedars of Lebanon were well-known for their size and strength. Yet the LORD’s voice is so strong that He splinters these mighty trees and sends their wood in flight.
i. Again, we can imagine a mighty thunderbolt striking and shattering a strong cedar tree. David saw this and thought: “The voice of the LORD is like this, though even more powerful!”
ii. Lebanon and Sirion like a young wild ox: Sirion is “A Sidonian name for [Mount] Hermon.” (Maclaren)
iii. In an archaic translation, the old King James has unicorn for young wild ox.
b. The voice of the LORD divides…shakes…makes the deer give birth: David could see the effect of lightning bolts, and understood that they were an illustration of the power and effect of God’s word.
c. In His temple everyone says, “Glory”: David thought of how thunder and lightning attract attention and give a sense of awe. This sense of glory is even more appropriately given to the LORD at His temple. There, the people of God do not tremble in fear of the storm, but in awe of their great God – to whom they say, “Glory!”
i. “Is not this a noble Psalm to be sung in stormy weather? Can you sing amid the thunder? Will you be able to sing when the last thunders are let loose, and Jesus judges the quick and the dead?” (Spurgeon)
ii. It is also worthwhile for each believer to ask himself or herself if he or she are among those who say, “Glory!” – if the word of God, the voice of God, still feels like thunder. If not (and for many this would be an honest assessment), he or she should humbly come to God and confess that His voice, His Word, sounds more like the drop of a paper clip than a thunderbolt – and ask for a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit to make a cold heart warm once again, and dull hearing sharp once more.
iii. “The commentators tell us that in the early church this psalm was often read to children or to an entire congregation during storms.” (Boice)
C. The LORD as the reigning, blessing King.
1. (10) The enthroned LORD.
The LORD sat enthroned at the Flood,
And the LORD sits as King forever.
a. The LORD sat enthroned at the Flood: David saw the storm bring a deluge of rain, and it made him think of the Genesis account of the Flood, remembering it as a remarkable demonstration of the power and authority of the voice of God.
i. “The word rendered ‘flood’ is only used elsewhere in reference to the Noachic deluge, and here has the definite article, which is most naturally explained as fixing the reference to that event.” (Maclaren)
ii. “Psalm 29:10 is the only place in the Old Testament where this particular Hebrew word for flood occurs except in the classic flood narrative of Genesis 6-9.” (Boice)
iii. David’s reflection on the Flood reminds us of what a staggering expression it was of God’s power and justice. “Even as in the days of the Flood, when he destroyed creation with his power but saved his own, so it is at any time that God’s glory is expressed in the severity of judgment.” (VanGemeren)
b. The LORD sits as King forever: The Flood was a radical expression of God’s authority; yet His authority did not end those many generations ago. The LORD God continues to sit as King forever.
i. Matthew Poole considered the connection between the LORD sat enthroned at the flood and the LORD sits as King forever: “As God showed himself to be the King and the Judge of the world at that time, so he doth still sit, and will sit, as King forever, sending such tempests when it pleaseth him.” (Poole)
2. (11) The King as a Shepherd to His people.
The LORD will give strength to His people;
The LORD will bless His people with peace.
a. The LORD will give strength to His people: As David considered the earth-shattering strength and authority of God, he recognized that God brought that same strength to His people.
b. The LORD will bless His people with peace: The power of God may come as a destructive storm upon creation and upon those who rebel against God. Yet God’s people can be confident that He will bless them with peace, and the strength of God comes to them as a comfort, not a storm.
i. “During the storm He will give strength to His people. Following it He will give them peace.” (Morgan)
(c) 2020 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – email@example.com
Psalm 28 – Praise from Prayer Heard and Answered
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
Psalm 27 – The Seeking, Waiting Life Rewarded
This psalm is simply titled A Psalm of David. As with many of David’s psalms, it is impossible to confidently state which period of his life it comes from. It speaks of trouble from enemies, adversaries, false witnesses, and violent men, but this was true of many periods of King David’s life. There is such a marked change between the first half and the second half of this psalm that many suggest that it was two different psalms stitched together. Alexander Maclaren said this idea “has much in its favour”; but it neglects how the experience of the man or woman of God can change so much even within a day or a song.
A. David’s confidence in and desire for God.
1. (1-3) A proven confidence.
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked came against me
To eat up my flesh,
My enemies and foes,
They stumbled and fell.
Though an army may encamp against me,
My heart shall not fear;
Though war may rise against me,
In this I will be confident.
a. The LORD is my light and my salvation: Like many psalms, King David wrote this from a season of trouble. Yet it is a song of confidence and triumph: because David was not in darkness or ultimate peril because the LORD was his light and salvation.
i. God Himself brought light to David’s life. He did not despair in darkness and all that it represented. His life was filled with the LORD, and his life was filled with light.
ii. God Himself brought salvation to David. He probably meant this as rescue both in the immediate and the ultimate senses. God had rescued him time and again, and would do so into eternity. “The Hebrew word for salvation means ‘deliverance’ explicitly, and again this probably has to do with deliverance from the king’s immediate enemies.” (Boice)
iii. “Although God is often associated with light in the Bible, this verse is the only direct application of the name light to God in the Old Testament.” (Boice) John 1:5 and 1:9 say this specifically of Jesus.
iv. Light and salvation were also wonderfully promised to the Gentiles through the person and work of the Messiah (Isaiah 49:6; repeated in Acts 13:47).
b. The LORD is the strength of my life: David was a skilled, experienced warrior and must have been a man of impressive physical strength. Nevertheless, he looked to the LORD as the strength of his life. David knew something of what the Apostle Paul would write many years later: Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (Ephesians 6:10).
i. “The very names of Jehovah as ‘Light,’ ‘Salvation,’ ‘the Stronghold of my life,’ imply darkness, danger, and besetting foes.” (Maclaren)
ii. If we rarely know what it is to have God be the strength of our life, perhaps it is because we trust in so many other things for strength. We find it easy to trust in our wisdom, our experience, our friends, and our resources. David knew a strength greater than all of those.
c. Whom shall I fear?…Of whom shall I be afraid? David used the poetic tool of repetition to make his point and bring together parallel ideas. Because God was his light, his salvation, and his strength, there was really no reason to fear or be afraid.
d. When the wicked came against me…they stumbled and fell: David remembered how God had proven Himself reliable in the past. There were times when the wicked or even an army came against him, yet God still showed that He was David’s light, his salvation, and his strength.
i. David’s confidence in God was battle-tested. He did not have fair-weather faith that lived in always-easy circumstances. This isn’t the joy of a man in a comfortable monastery; this is the song of a man who knew God’s goodness even in danger and despair.
ii. 1 Samuel 17:44 relates that Goliath told the young David, Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field! Perhaps David remembered that when he wrote, When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell.
iii. They stumbled and fell: “God’s breath blew them off their legs…. This was literally true in the case of our Lord in Gethsemane, when those who came to take him went backward and fell to the ground; and herein he was a prophetic representative of all wrestling believers who, rising from their knees shall, by the power of faith, throw their foes upon their faces.” (Spurgeon)
v. In this will I be confident: “Because of his confidence in the Lord, the psalmist is not afraid. In his inner being there is no fear. This confident confession in God’s saving love is similar to Paul’s confession in Romans 8:31-39.” (VanGemeren)
2. (4) David’s desire for God’s presence.
One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple.
a. One thing I have desired of the LORD: The tone of the song suddenly changes from celebration to contemplation. The experience of the goodness and greatness of God made David think about how wonderful it is to seek Him and to experience His presence.
i. “One purpose dominated his prayer and life. It was never long absent from the Psalmist’s thought. The men of one idea are irresistible.” (Meyer)
b. That I may dwell in the house of the LORD: David wished he could live in the tabernacle itself, surrounded every day by the presence and beauty of God.
i. In these few verses we note the many ways David referred to the house of the LORD. “David seems to be ransacking the Hebrew language for nouns to describe it: ‘the house of the Lord’ (Psalm 27:4) ‘his temple’ (Psalm 27:4), ‘his dwelling’ (Psalm 27:5), ‘his tabernacle’ (Psalm 27:5-6).” (Boice)
c. To behold the beauty of the LORD: David knew there was beauty in the nature and presence of God, beauty that could be perceived by the seeking eye of faith. He could think of no greater occupation than to fill his mind and heart with the goodness and greatness of God.
i. There is richness in God, revealed to the seeking heart, that many people never know. It is a shame that David knew this under the Old Covenant, and so many of us – with a greater covenant and greater promises – never know it.
ii. “The character of God is attractive, and fitted to inspire us with love for him, and to make us, as it were, run after him.” (Gray, cited in Spurgeon)
iii. Alexander Pope, a famous writer, once wrote: “Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; the proper study of mankind is man.” He thought it was more important for us to learn about ourselves than about God.
iv. An even more famous writer, Charles Spurgeon, responded to Pope’s statement: “It has been said by someone that ‘the proper study of mankind is man.’ I will not oppose the idea, but I believe it is equally true that the proper study of God’s elect is God; the proper study of a Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father.” (This came from Spurgeon’s first published sermon, titled The Immutability of God, delivered on January 7, 1855 – when he was 20 years old.)
d. And to inquire in His temple: In God’s presence, David wished to go from contemplation to inquiry. He wanted to know more of God and more of His ways.
i. It wasn’t that the earthly structure so fascinated David; he wrote this when the tabernacle tent served as a rather humble temple for Israel, before the wonderful building that Solomon built. “It was not the earthly temple itself that charmed David but rather the beauty of the Lord that was to be found at the temple in a special way.” (Boice)
ii. “The two acts complete the joyful employment of a soul communing with God: first perceiving and then reflecting upon His uncreated beauty of goodness.” (Maclaren)
3. (5-6) The blessings of God’s presence.
For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.
And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me;
Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD.
a. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion: David knew that there was special blessing and protection for the one who earnestly sought God. It wasn’t a promise to prevent all trouble, but to give security and blessing even in the midst of it.
i. “God’s dwelling is a ‘tent,’ where He will shelter His guests. The privilege of asylum is theirs.” (Maclaren)
b. He shall set me high upon a rock: David believed that a life spent seeking God would know a measure of safety and security, even in the presence of enemies all around.
i. My head shall be lifted up: “Two things make the head hang down – fear and shame; hope easeth the Christian’s heart of both these, and so forbids him to give any sign of a desponding mind by a dejected countenance.” (Gurnall, cited in Spurgeon)
c. Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy: David’s life was filled with celebration and gratitude for all God had done. He would sing praises to the LORD who blessed him with His presence and rescued him so often.
i. “Sacrifices of joy, or of shouting and resounding, i.e. of thanksgiving; which were accomplished with the sound of trumpets and other instruments, Numbers 10:10; 1 Chronicles 16:41, 42; Psalm 33:3.” (Poole)
B. A prayer.
1. (7-10) Seeking the faithful God.
Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice!
Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
When You said, “Seek My face,”
My heart said to You, “Your face, LORD, I will seek.”
Do not hide Your face from me;
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not leave me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation.
When my father and my mother forsake me,
Then the LORD will take care of me.
a. Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: The celebration of the first half of this psalm might make us think that it was all easy for David. One might think that when trouble came there was no struggle, either with self or God. Yet David showed us that even he – the one who sought God with such passion – sometimes felt that God did not hear him immediately.
i. “Note his anxiety to be heard. Pharisees care not a fig for the Lord’s hearing them, so long as they are heard of men, or charm their own pride with their sounding devotions; but with a genuine man, the Lord’s ear is everything.” (Spurgeon)
b. When You said, “Seek My face”: God invited David to seek Him; yet there was a sense in which David felt that God was hiding from him (Do not hide Your face from me). David didn’t become angry with God or turn against Him; in his disappointment he sought God all the more diligently and desperately (Do not leave me nor forsake me).
c. You have been my help; do not leave me nor forsake me: David used God’s past help as a reason to ask and expect future help.
d. When my father and mother forsake me, then the LORD will take care of me: David knew that the love and care of God could go beyond even the closest human bonds. David probably did not expect his parents to forsake him; yet even if they did, God would not.
i. David sent his parents to Moab for protection in 1 Samuel 22:3-4. Perhaps, without their ever intending it, this made David feel forsaken by his parents.
ii. Boice points out that from a parent, we want acceptance, to be heard, guidance, and protection. God can fulfill each of these for all, including someone who never received these from a parent.
2. (11-13) A believing prayer for guidance.
Teach me Your way, O LORD,
And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.
Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries;
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.
a. Teach me Your way, O LORD: This was a simple prayer for a life of true discipleship. David didn’t want to live his way, but the LORD’s way.
b. And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies: David didn’t ask for an easy path, but instead a level or even place, a place of secure standing. It’s the same word used in Psalm 26:12 to describe an even place.
i. “The simplest meaning of the word rendered plain [smooth], is level, or even.” (Morgan)
ii. David had many adversaries, false witnesses against him, and violent men opposing him. In asking for a smooth path, he wasn’t asking for an easy life but for a stable and secure place to stand against the storms of this life.
iii. My enemies: “The word enemies is rendered by Thirtle ‘watchful foes,’ and that exactly conveys the idea. It is that of enemies lying in ambush, waiting to catch him unawares, to attack him treacherously. The plain path for which he asks is one, traveling along which there shall be no pitfalls or lurking places for these foes.” (Morgan)
c. I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living: David’s seeking after God, and his knowledge of the Lord, led him to this triumphant statement. He would have given up (lost heart), but he knew that the good God would find a way to show His goodness in this life (as well as the next).
i. Some speculate that David meant the life to come when he wrote of the land of the living. One can fairly say that this is the land of the dying, “in which there are more dead than living, more under ground than above it; where the earth is fuller of graves than houses; where life lies trembling under the hand of death; and where death hath power to tyrannise over life! No, my soul, there only is the land of the living where there are none but the living; where there is a church, not militant, but triumphant; a church indeed, but no church-yard, because none dead, nor none that can die; where life is not passive, nor death active; where life sits crowned, and where death is swallowed up in victory.” (Baxter, cited in Spurgeon)
3. (14) An encouragement to others.
Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD!
a. Wait on the LORD; be of good courage: Here King David spoke to you and to me, to his readers. From the reservoir of his experience he can encourage us to seek after God (Wait on the LORD) and to take courage in Him (be of good courage).
i. “Wait at his door with prayer; wait at his foot with humility; wait at his table with service; wait at his window with expectancy.” (Spurgeon)
ii. “To wait for Jehovah is ever to find the plain path, however rough that path may be.” (Morgan)
b. And He shall strengthen your heart: This profound promise is for us. Across the centuries David spoke to us, telling us to be confident that there is strength in the LORD for those who seek Him and trust Him.
c. Wait, I say, on the LORD: As in Isaiah 40:31, the idea behind wait…on the LORD is not a passive sitting around until the LORD does something. Yes, God gives us strength; but we don’t expect it to come as if He were pouring it into us as we sit passively. He brings it to us as we seek Him, and rely on Him, instead of relying on our own strength. If we are weak, it is because we do not wait…on the LORD.
i. We should wait on the LORD:
· As a beggar waits for handouts at the rich man’s door.
· As a student waits to be taught.
· As a servant waits on his master.
· As a traveler waits for the directions of the guide.
· As a child waits upon his parent.
ii. “Many of his promises bear a long date; but they are sure and infallible. Wait, therefore.” (Trapp)
(c) 2020 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – email@example.com
Psalm 26 – Standing in an Even Place
Psalm 26 is simply titled A Psalm of David. Attempts to place it at a specific time in David’s life are unsure. It shares themes with many psalms, but we note that despite the danger of evil associates, David remained confident that he would not slip, and that he would securely stand in an even place.
A. Innocence proclaimed.
1. (1-3) A plea for vindication and the reason for it.
Vindicate me, O LORD,
For I have walked in my integrity.
I have also trusted in the LORD;
I shall not slip.
Examine me, O LORD, and prove me;
Try my mind and my heart.
For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes,
And I have walked in Your truth.
a. Vindicate me, O LORD: Like many of David’s psalms, this song was written from a time of great trouble. He here pleaded for God to vindicate him, presumably by his enemies. The request carries with it the implication that David himself was unable to vindicate himself or had chosen not to.
i. “It is not David’s reputation in the eyes of other people that concerns him but rather God’s reputation that he covets.” (Boice)
b. For I have walked in my integrity. I have also trusted in the LORD; I shall not slip: David had confidence that God would answer his prayer and vindicate him, because he had faith in God (trusted in the LORD) which he demonstrated by a faithful life (I have walked in my integrity). Therefore, despite his present difficulty, he could say, “I shall not slip.”
c. Examine me, O LORD, and prove me: David was confident enough in his demonstrated life of faith that he asked God to examine and try him. If David were not in fact trusting in God or walking rightly, he wanted God to show him and teach him.
i. The request to examine, prove, and try refers mainly to the inward working of a man or woman – the mind and the heart.
d. For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, and I have walked in Your truth: David here again combined the ideas of trusting in God and His mercy (God’s lovingkindness), and in his demonstrated life of faith (I have walked in Your truth).
i. Your lovingkindness is before my eyes: David knew the value of sustained examination and meditation upon the lovingkindness of God. “Brethren, depend upon it that you shall find, each of you when you get dull and flagging in the practical part of your religion, that the proper way to revive it is to think more than you have done upon the lovingkindness of God.” (Spurgeon)
· His lovingkindness is a good subject.
· His lovingkindness is a wide subject.
· His lovingkindness is a pleasing subject.
· His lovingkindness is a plain and simple subject.
· His lovingkindness is an always suitable and seasonable subject.
· His lovingkindness begins in eternity.
· His lovingkindness is given freely.
· His lovingkindness is certain.
· His lovingkindness is faithful.
· His lovingkindness goes into the smallest details.
e. And I have walked in Your truth: The idea of walked speaks of action, of manner of living. David knew the importance of both a right inward life (mind and heart) and right actions and deeds.
i. “We need people who have been taught and who then also walk in that way so that they demonstrate to unbelievers that the path of faith and morality is the happy and successful way to live.” (Boice)
ii. “If our actions are evil, it is vain to take comfort from our thoughts. If actions speak louder than words, they may well speak louder than thoughts.” (Spurgeon)
2. (4-8) Innocence proclaimed.
I have not sat with idolatrous mortals,
Nor will I go in with hypocrites.
I have hated the assembly of evildoers,
And will not sit with the wicked.
I will wash my hands in innocence;
So I will go about Your altar, O LORD,
That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving,
And tell of all Your wondrous works.
LORD, I have loved the habitation of Your house,
And the place where Your glory dwells.
a. I have not sat with idolatrous mortals: Having stated the fact of his faithful life to God, David then described several specific ways that his life demonstrated a living faith. He did not associate with idolaters, hypocrites, evildoers, or the wicked.
i. “I have not sat, i.e. chosen or used to converse with them; for sitting is a posture of ease and continuance.” (Poole)
ii. David described idol worshippers as mortals because it was helpful for him to remember and for them to know that their lives were short, and they would soon enough have to answer to the true and living God, instead of idols of their own making.
iii. David did this under the assumption that at least some kind of association with these people was morally wrong. One might say that he took 1 Corinthians 15:33 to heart a thousand years before Paul wrote the words by inspiration of the Holy Spirit: Evil company corrupts good habits.
iv. Hypocrites: “The hidden ones, the dark designers, the secret plotters.” (Clarke)
b. And will not sit with the wicked: David had in mind the people he chose to associate with. We have little or no control over many contacts and associations in life; but of those we do, we are obligated to choose and value our associations with a heavenly perspective, not an earthly one.
i. In the modern world this idea takes on an entirely different dimension, in many ways unknown to King David. We choose associations in our entertainment, and we often choose very poorly. We allow the wicked to amuse us, then to be our examples, then our models, and finally our idols. David’s statement here also applies to these kind of contacts and associations.
ii. “Many Christians can trace a lost youth or fruitless middle years to the bad influence of evil persons, whom they looked up to and even envied at one time.” (Boice)
iii. “Many people have a very strong desire to meet celebrated or ‘important’ people, including those whom they disapprove…. But I am inclined to think a Christian would be wise to avoid, where he decently can, any meeting with people who are bullies, or lascivious, cruel, dishonest, spiteful and so forth. Not because we are ‘too good’ for them. In a sense we are not good enough. We are not good enough to cope with all the temptations, nor clever enough to cope with all the problems, which an evening spent in such society produces.” (C.S. Lewis, cited in Boice)
c. I will wash my hands in innocence; so will I go about Your altar, O LORD: David did not believe he was sinless or perfect. He did need to wash his hands, but he could do so in the innocence of a clear conscience before God. He availed himself of God’s altar, both for atonement and for offerings of thanksgiving.
i. Probably people wash or cleanse their hands more today than ever before in history. Perhaps every time we do, we should remind ourselves to receive the cleansing that comes from Jesus and His work on the cross, and our responsibility to cleanse our hands from wicked actions, our mouth from wicked words, and our heart from wicked desires. Outward cleanliness is good, but worth little for eternity if our life and heart are filthy before God.
ii. So will I go about Your altar: To the best of our knowledge, there was no ritual practice of walking around or dancing around God’s altar among the ancient Hebrews. It may be that David had in mind the spiritual sacrifices of praise, and he joined a happy circle of worshippers (as Maclaren thought). Or, if David meant literal sacrifice, he probably had in mind the idea of offering so many animals to God at one time that the sacrifices themselves circled the altar in a sense. “He implies that he would offer many sacrifices together, which would employ the priests about the altar.” (Poole)
d. I have loved the habitation of Your house: For David, a right walk with God was more than the avoidance of evil. It was also a simple yet deep love for God and His presence. He loved the tabernacle because it represented the house of God; it was the place of God’s glory.
i. Obedience cannot be sustained without the sweetness of God’s presence and glory.
ii. “The habitation must mean the holy of holies, where the Divine Presence was manifest; and the place of the tabernacle must refer to the mercy-seat, or the place where the glory of the Lord appeared between the cherubim, upon the lid or cover of the ark of the covenant.” (Clarke)
B. What David wants from God.
1. (9-10) What David does not want God to do.
Do not gather my soul with sinners,
Nor my life with bloodthirsty men,
In whose hands is a sinister scheme,
And whose right hand is full of bribes.
a. Do not gather my soul with sinners: In light of David’s great need and his great trust in God, he asked God to preserve his life. He refused to associate with the wicked in life; he asked God to keep him from sinners in death.
i. “The worst and most abandoned wretch on earth agrees with David in this. Sinners do not wish to be gathered with sinners. Balaam’s prayer is, ‘Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his,’ which only differs in words from David’s petition, ‘Gather not my soul with sinners.’” (Spurgeon)
b. In whose hands is a sinister scheme: David knew of many wicked men with evil plots who were full of greedy bribes; he considered it a curse to be associated with them either in the present age or in death.
i. Many who would never think of taking bribes from a businessman still take bribes of a sort; they take bribes from sin. A bribe simply is a reward for doing something morally wrong. Sin may bribe us with momentary pleasure, attention, fame of a sort, excitement, comfort of life, or whatever. We should never be willing to do something morally wrong because it is rewarded in some way.
ii. “A soul walking in its integrity will take bribes neither from men, nor sin itself.” (William Gurnall, cited in Spurgeon)
2. (11-12) What David wants God to do.
But as for me, I will walk in my integrity;
Redeem me and be merciful to me.
My foot stands in an even place;
In the congregations I will bless the LORD.
a. But as for me, I will walk in my integrity: We note David’s confident proclamation. Despite the danger to his life, despite the presence of the wicked, he – God helping him – would walk in his integrity.
b. Redeem me and be merciful to me: David had appropriate resolve, but even more appropriate trust in God. He could only walk in integrity if God would redeem him and be merciful to him.
c. My foot stands in an even place: With this combination of appropriate resolve and trust in God, David – despite the dangers all around – could be confident of his position (my foot stands). He stood on level ground, in an even place – a repeat of his confidence in the first verse, I shall not slip.
i. “He seems to say to them all, ‘Hoot at me if you will: seek to trip me up as you please: God is high above you all, and in him I shall still stand my ground, for, blessed be his name, notwithstanding every attempt of the enemy to throw me down, my foot standeth in an even place, and in the congregation will I bless the Lord.’” (Spurgeon)
d. In the congregations I will bless the LORD: He was so confident that he said that he would bless and praise God publicly, among others (in the congregations), not as an outcast or castaway.
i. “The song began in the minor, but it has now reached the major key. Saints often sing themselves into happiness. The even place upon which our foot stands is the sure, covenant faithfulness, eternal promise and immutable oath of the Lord of Hosts; there is no fear of falling from this solid basis, or of its being removed from under us.” (Spurgeon)
(c) 2020 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – firstname.lastname@example.org
Psalm 25 – A Plea for Help from the Humble and Reverent
Like several other psalms, Psalm 25 is an acrostic, or nearly so; there are a few irregularities in the acrostic pattern. James Montgomery Boice suggested three reasons why there are nine acrostic psalms (Psalm 9, 10, 25, 34, 37, 111, 112, 119, and 145). First, the acrostic pattern is a literary device used to add beauty and form to the psalm. Second, it gives the sense that the subject is being covered completely, as if from A to Z. Third, the acrostic pattern may be a device used to encourage learning and memorization.
This psalm is merely titled A Psalm of David. We do not know the precise time period it came from; David was so often in trouble that it could have been from several different points. It is a wonderful display of the heart of a well-taught believer in a season of crisis.
“David is pictured in this Psalm as in a faithful miniature. His holy trust, his many conflicts, his great transgressions, his bitter repentance, and his deep distresses are all here; so that we see the very heart of ‘the man after God’s own heart.’” (Charles Spurgeon)
A. Troubled by enemies, David lifts his soul to God.
1. (1-2) David casts his trust upon God.
To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
O my God, I trust in You;
Let me not be ashamed;
Let not my enemies triumph over me.
a. To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul: This is an expressive figure of speech speaking of the surrender, submission, and waiting upon God that David directed toward Yahweh (the LORD), the covenant God of Israel. It was as if David held his soul in outstretched hands up to heaven saying, “Here I am LORD, completely surrendered unto you.”
i. “The very nature of such aspiration after God demands that it shall be exclusive. ‘All in all or not at all’ is the requirement of true devotion.” (Maclaren)
ii. “Cares and pleasures are the weights which press the soul down to earth, and fasten here thereto; and it is the spirit of prayer, which must enable her to throw off those weights, to break these cords, and to ‘lift up’ herself to heaven.” (Horne)
b. O my God, I trust in You; let me not be ashamed: As David declared his trust in God, he seemed to speak more to himself than to God. He assured himself of not only his trust in the LORD, but also the expected reward of that trust – to not be ashamed before either the LORD or his enemies.
c. Let not my enemies triumph over me: This gives some context to this psalm. Like many others, it was written from a time of trouble. David faced enemies who wanted the worst for him.
2. (3-5) A plea to the God who helps.
Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed;
Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause.
Show me Your ways, O LORD;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day.
a. Let no one who waits on You be ashamed: The idea of waits on You isn’t of passively doing nothing; rather, it is of an active service. The idea isn’t of a waiting room, but of a waiter attending to every desire and need of the one being served. David included himself among those who wait upon the LORD, but also knew that others did – and wanted all of them to be vindicated publically and unashamed.
i. “This is not a petition, as the King James’ version rendered it, but an affirmation of confidence.” (Morgan)
ii. The Biblical idea of ashamed is not primarily embarrassment (though sometimes it is used that way). The primary idea “is that of being let down or disappointed or of having trusted in something that in the end proves unworthy of our trust.” (Boice) This is especially reflected in passages such as Romans 5:5 and Isaiah 49:23.
b. Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause: Instead of the servants of the LORD being publically embarrassed, David prayed that his enemies would suffer this shame.
c. Show me Your ways…teach me Your paths…Lead me in Your truth: This shows that though David longed for public vindication, he was not haughty and proud. If he needed guidance or correction, he wanted God to give it, and to give it before any public humiliation, to prevent public humiliation.
i. “The petitioner reveals an earnest desire to do God’s will by praying to know ‘your ways,’ ‘your paths,’ and ‘your truth.’” (VanGemeren)
ii. We can be sure that no man or woman who has been shown the way by God, or taught in His paths, or led in His truth, has been led into sin or compromise that led to public disgrace and dishonor.
d. For You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day: Because David had received salvation from God, it made him want to wait upon the LORD all the more. It was an appropriate demonstration of commitment and gratitude to the God who had done so much for him.
i. We should regard the salvation David received here as being rescued in a broad sense. Spiritually speaking, he was rescued from despair and sin, both for now and in the life to come. Yet God also rescued his life and health again and again in the present age.
3. (6-7) A plea for God to remember and to not remember.
Remember, O LORD, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses,
For they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions;
According to Your mercy remember me,
For Your goodness’ sake, O LORD.
a. Remember, O LORD: David asked God to remember His grace and goodness. First, he described them as tender mercies: compassionate compassions (rachamracham, with the repetition indicating intensity). Then, he used the plural of the wonderful word lovingkindness (hesed), which speaks of God’s deep, covenant love.
i. “Steadfast love, or ‘true love’ (New English Bible) is that faithfulness to a covenant, to which marital devotion gives some analogy.” (Kidner)
ii. “This is the love by which he enters into a favorable relationship with his people, promising to be their God.” (Boice)
iii. David thought of this love in the plural – lovingkindnesses – as if God’s covenant love was so great that it could not be thought of in the singular.
b. For they are from of old: David pressed his request to God on the basis of His prior work. “LORD, you have shown me great mercy and covenant love in the past; remember it now and do it again at my point of present need.”
i. “A more correct translation would be ‘from eternity.’ David was a sound believer in the doctrine of God’s eternal love. The Lord’s loving-kindnesses are no novelties.” (Spurgeon)
c. Do not remember the sins of my youth: Immediately after asking God to remember (Psalm 25:6), David then asked God to forget. He wanted God to forget his own youthful sins (in the sense of forgiving them), and he wanted God to remember God’s own faithfulness in prior times.
i. Sins of my youth: “Which, though long since committed, must not be remembered without remorse.” (Trapp)
ii. “When God remembers his mercy, he forgets our sins.” (Horne)
d. According to Your mercy remember me, for Your goodness’ sake, O LORD: These are strong expressions of David’s humility and even repentance. He asked to be remembered not on the basis of merit, but on the basis of mercy. He wanted God to do all this remembering and forgetting for the sake of God’s own goodness, not David’s supposed goodness.
i. “Never did prisoner at the bar beg more earnestly for his life than David did for pardon of his great offence, especially in the matter of Uriah; for that lay heaviest.” (Trapp)
B. Declaring the goodness of God.
1. (8-11) God’s goodness to the humble.
Good and upright is the LORD;
Therefore He teaches sinners in the way.
The humble He guides in justice,
And the humble He teaches His way.
All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth,
To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.
For Your name’s sake, O LORD,
Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.
a. Good and upright is the LORD; therefore He teaches sinners: David’s observation here was not learned through simple logic. It is just as logical for God to judge or destroy sinners as it is for Him to teach them. Yet David had learned this through love more than logic, that God is good and upright, and this goodness can be for the benefit of sinners instead of for their destruction.
b. The humble He guides…the humble He teaches: David knew there was a particular kind of sinner that received this instruction and guidance from the good God – the humble man or woman. Not every sinner receives these good things from God, but those who will humble themselves before Him do.
i. “Meek spirits are in high favour with the Father of the meek and lowly Jesus, for he sees in them the image of his only-begotten Son.” (Spurgeon)
c. All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth, to such as keep His covenant and His testimonies: This is a remarkable promise. The conditions are that one stay in God’s covenant and in His word (His testimonies), both in the sense of knowing them and obeying them. The promise is that God will continually reveal His mercy and truth in all that we live and experience.
i. We imagine a discouraged believer who says, “God’s path for me is severe and terrible, at least at the present moment.” David answers from both his knowledge and experience, “All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth, for those who stay in His covenant and in His word. Focus yourself once again on His covenant and His testimonies, and you will see this for yourself.”
ii. Paths of the LORD: “In the Hebrew I find the word here used is ‘wheel tracks,’ such ruts as wagons make when they go down our green roads in wet weather and sink in up to the axles. God’s ways are at times like heavy wagon-tracks, and they cut deep into our souls; yet they are all of them mercy.” (Spurgeon)
iii. “Mercy and truth are the paths in which God constantly walks in reference to the children of men; and so frequently does he show them mercy, and so frequently does he fulfil his truth, that his paths are earnestly discerned. How frequent, how deeply indented, and how multiplied are those tracks to every family and individual!” (Clarke)
iv. All the paths of the LORD: “They say there is no rule without an exception, but there is an exception to that rule. All God’s dealings with his people are gracious and faithful.” (Spurgeon)
d. For Your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my iniquity, for it is great: Once again we see a strong expression of David’s humility. He expected pardon for God’s sake, not his own. He humbly recognized the greatness of his own iniquity.
i. Our sin is great:
· Our sin is great when we consider against whom it is committed.
· Our sin is great when we consider that it is against a just and fair law.
· Our sin is great when we consider it is committed by those made in the image of God.
· Our sin is great when we consider the amount of our sin.
ii. It is strange (but true) spiritual logic: pardon my iniquity, for it is great. We can only imagine a criminal in a court of law appealing to the judge on this basis. “Your honor, find me not guilty, because my crimes have been many and large.”
iii. David seemed to know the freedom and peace that comes from saying, “LORD, I know that I am a great sinner; but You are an even greater Savior. I humbly submit myself to You and ask you to pardon my iniquity.”
2. (12-14) God’s goodness to the reverent man.
Who is the man that fears the LORD?
Him shall He teach in the way He chooses.
He himself shall dwell in prosperity,
And his descendants shall inherit the earth.
The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him,
And He will show them His covenant.
a. Who is the man that fears the LORD? Him shall He teach: Using the Hebrew poetic tool of repetition, David set the idea of humility (Psalm 25:9) next to the idea of a reverent fear of God. The two concepts are closely connected, and this humble, reverent person can expect the gift of God’s guidance and instruction.
b. He himself shall dwell in prosperity: David described the earthly, material blessings that often come to the humble and reverent. We sense that perhaps David said this in faith; though his present situation was bad, he trusted that prosperity and blessing for his descendants would come in time.
c. The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant: After touching on the material blessings that may come to the humble and reverent man, David then spoke of the greatest blessing that one may receive – the secret of the LORD, and a greater understanding of His covenant.
i. “The Hebrew idiom for ‘the LORD confides’ is ‘the secret of Yahweh,’ which may here be translated by ‘intimate circle’ (cf. Job 19:19; 29:4; Proverbs 3:32). Those who do his will are his confidants, as was Abraham (Genesis 18:17).” (VanGemeren)
ii. “Some read it ‘the friendship:’ it signifies familiar intercourse, confidential intimacy, and select fellowship. This is a great secret. Carnal minds cannot guess what is intended by it, and even believers cannot explain it in words, for it must be felt to be known.” (Spurgeon)
iii. “Whether we translate the first word ‘secret’ or ‘friendship,’ the sense is substantially the same. Obedience and the true fear of Jehovah directly tend to discernment of His purposes, and will besides be rewarded by whispers from heaven.” (Maclaren)
iv. The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him reminds us that there are realities of Christian knowledge and experience known only by those who have new life by the Spirit of God; the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14). To explain such secrets to those who do not have the Spirit of God is like explaining colors to a blind man or musical harmonies to a deaf man.
v. “There are secret passages of love between Christ and the believing soul, which it would not be lawful to utter. High fellowship: deep blessedness.” (Meyer)
C. Eyes toward the God of help.
1. (15) Eyes toward God, even from trouble.
My eyes are ever toward the LORD,
For He shall pluck my feet out of the net.
a. My eyes are ever toward the LORD: David said this both as a statement of fact and as a prayer for the future. He knew the importance of keeping the attention of his mind and soul toward the LORD.
i. “He looks in confidence and waits in hope. We may add to this look of faith and hope the obedient look of service, the humble look of reverence, the admiring look of wonder, the studious look of meditation and the tender look of affection.” (Spurgeon)
b. For He shall pluck my feet out of the net: This reminds us that this psalm was written from a season of trouble, in which David still felt himself caught. His feet were still in the net his enemies set against him.
2. (16-21) The plea for help presented again.
Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me,
For I am desolate and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart have enlarged;
Bring me out of my distresses!
Look on my affliction and my pain,
And forgive all my sins.
Consider my enemies, for they are many;
And they hate me with cruel hatred.
Keep my soul, and deliver me;
Let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You.
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me,
For I wait for You.
a. Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me: We see David did not hesitate to repeat his request to God, and he did so with a clever turn of thought. In Psalm 25:15 he spoke of how he had turned his attention toward the LORD; here he asked God to turn His attention toward His needy servant.
b. Desolate and afflicted…troubles…distresses…affliction…pain: This sweet, comforting psalm came from a season of agony for David. Much of the agony came from enemies, for many were set against him.
i. Some thousand years before Paul, David lived what the Apostle would later write at 2 Corinthians 4:8-10: We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed – always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
c. And forgive all my sins: It was as if David recognized, “I have many enemies and troubles, but none greater than my own sins. Please God, deal also with all my sins.”
d. I put my trust in You…I wait for You: The present difficulty David endured would not prevent him from trusting and serving God. This was a deep relationship with God, not one easily damaged or separated by disappointment.
3. (22) A closing request.
Redeem Israel, O God,
Out of all their troubles!
a. Redeem Israel, O God: We don’t know if this psalm came from the time before David was king, or after. Whether it was before or after, David had a deep concern for the blessing and welfare of God’s people as a whole, not merely himself.
i. “If thou will not pity and help me, yet spare thy people, who suffer for my sake, and in my sufferings.” (Poole)
b. Out of all their troubles: It is remarkable that David could spare a care and a prayer for the troubles of others when he was in a season of such difficulty. This shows a life that was indeed instructed in God’s ways, even as David prayed (Psalm 25:8-14).
i. One of the worst aspects of difficulty and trial in the life of the believer is that it can lead one to become terribly self-focused and concerned only with one’s own problems. David, in his humility and reverence to God, was guided in a better way.
(c) 2020 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – email@example.com
Psalm 24 – The Great and Sovereign God
This psalm is simply titled A Psalm of David. Many think this psalm was written upon the occasion of the entrance of the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem during the reign of David (2 Samuel 6). Yet Charles Spurgeon correctly wrote, “The eye of the Psalmist looked, however, beyond the typical upgoing of the ark to the sublime ascension of the King of glory.”
A. The great and sovereign God.
1. (1) The declaration: The whole world belongs to the LORD God.
The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein.
a. The earth is the LORD’s: David was a noble, successful king – but of a relatively small and insignificant kingdom. One might easily think that the gods of the Egyptians or Assyrians were greater because those kingdoms were greater. Yet David rightly knew that the LORD, Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel, was God of all the earth.
b. The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness: It wasn’t enough for David to say that the entire earth belonged to the LORD; he added that all its fullness also belonged to Him. It’s difficult to think of a more sweeping statement of God’s ownership.
i. “The ‘fulness’ of the earth may mean its harvests, its wealth, its life, or its worship; in all these senses the Most High God is Possessor of all. The earth is full of God; he made it full and he keeps it full.” (Spurgeon)
ii. There is a sense in which the “world” belongs to Satan. Satan is called the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4), and when he tempted Jesus with the promise of giving Him the kingdoms of this world, Jesus did not question the devil’s ability to do so. Yet Satan can only do anything at God’s allowance, so God’s ultimate ownership is true.
iii. Paul quoted the earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness twice (1 Corinthians 10:26 and 10:28) to establish the principle that no food is in itself unclean, and that there is in fact nothing that actually belongs to the false gods the pagans made offerings unto.
c. The world and those who dwell therein: God’s ownership of the earth extends to the people who live upon it. Through the rights of creation and continuing provision, God has a claim upon every person who has ever lived.
2. (2) The reason: God is creator.
For He has founded it upon the seas,
And established it upon the waters.
a. For He has founded it upon the seas: God has the right to the earth and all who dwell upon it because He created both it and them. Specifically, David looks back to the creation account of Genesis 1 and remembers the creation of land in the midst of earth’s waters on the third day of creation.
b. And established it upon the waters: To the best of our knowledge, David had never ventured more than a few hundred miles beyond Israel, and had never seen a large sea other than the Mediterranean (perhaps also the Red Sea). David never saw a modern globe or earth projection. Yet he knew that the waters of the earth dominated the globe, so much so that it could be said that the earth is in the midst of the waters instead of the waters in the midst of the earth’s land.
i. To David, this may have seemed to be a wonderful engineering marvel – that God could establish the earth upon the waters.
ii. “Upon could be translated ‘above’, as in Psalm 8:1.” (Kidner)
B. Received by the great and sovereign God.
1. (3) The question asked – whom does God receive?
Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD?
Or who may stand in His holy place?
a. Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? In light of God’s sovereign ownership of the earth and all who live upon it, David wondered exactly who had the right to stand before God. This wasn’t about mountain climbing or hill ascending ability, but about the right to come before God.
b. Who may stand in His holy place? David here clarified his previous question. David asked, “Who has the right to stand before God at His holy temple, in the holy place?”
i. This is a question that used to concern mankind much more than it does in our present day. There was a time when men and women genuinely wondered what was required of them to make them right with God. Today, it seems the most-asked question is something like, “How can I be happy?”
ii. Personal happiness is important; but it isn’t more important than being in right relationship with our Creator and Provider. David not only asked an important question, but the most important question.
2. (4) The answer to the question: the moral character of the one whom God receives.
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,
Nor sworn deceitfully.
a. He who has clean hands and a pure heart: This speaks of a man or woman who is pure in both their actions (hands) and intentions (heart). This one can ascend the hill of the LORD and stand in His holy place.
i. David already established that God ruled the earth; now he declared that God rules the earth on a moral foundation. He is concerned with the moral behavior of mankind.
ii. Clean hands are important for good hygiene, but this speaks of much more than washing with water. Pontius Pilate washed his hands, but they were not clean.
iii. “But ‘clean hands’ would not suffice, unless they were connected with ‘a pure heart.’ True religion is heart-work.” (Spurgeon)
b. Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol: The one accepted by God also rejects idolatry, in his actions but especially in his soul.
i. “The meaning of lift up his soul is illuminated by Psalm 25:1, where it is parallel to ‘trust’.” (Kidner)
c. Nor sworn deceitfully: The words we speak are a good indication of the state of our heart, the inner man or woman (Matthew 12:34). One who makes deceptive promises finds no welcome from God.
i. David understood all this under the general principles of the Old Covenant, in which God promised to bless and receive obedient Israel, and also promised to curse and afflict a disobedient Israel (Deuteronomy 27-28).
ii. Outside the terms of the Old Covenant that God made with Israel, these answers of David may cause one to despair. It’s easy to look at this list and see that my hands are not always clean; my heart is not always pure. Idolatry can be both subtle and stubborn in my heart. I also find it too easy to make promises with at least a tinge of deceit.
iii. Fortunately, God established a better covenant, a new covenant through the person and work of Jesus. Under the new covenant, we see that Jesus is the one who has clean hands and a pure heart, perfectly so. Jesus has never lifted up his soul to an idol, and has never sworn deceitfully. In His righteousness, given to all who believe (Romans 3:22), we can ascend His holy hill and stand in His holy place.
iv. “Our Lord Jesus Christ could ascend into the hill of the Lord because his hands were clean and his heart was pure, and if we by faith in him are conformed to his image we shall enter too.” (Spurgeon)
v. Nevertheless, David’s principle is also accurate under the New Covenant in this sense: the conduct of one’s life is a reflection of his fellowship with God. As John wrote: If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth (1 John 1:6). We might say that under the Old Covenant a righteous walk was the precondition for fellowship with God; under the New Covenant a righteous walk is the result of fellowship with God, founded on faith. Yet under both covenants, God cares very much about the moral conduct of mankind, especially those who identify themselves as His people.
3. (5) The promise of blessing to the righteous man.
He shall receive blessing from the LORD,
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
a. He shall receive blessing from the LORD: God knows and cares about the moral behavior of men and women. He rewards those who honor Him with their lives.
i. This blessing may be understood sometimes in rewards that God grants to the obedient; other times it may be understood as the natural result of living according to God’s wise order.
ii. “It is here very observable, that the character of a right and acceptable worshipper of God is not taken from his nation and relation to Abraham, or from all those costly and laborious rites and ceremonies of the law, in which the generality of the Israelites pleased themselves, but in moral and spiritual duties, which most of them grossly neglected.” (Poole)
iii. He shall receive blessing: “Perhaps alluding to Obed-edom, at whose house the ark had been lodged, and on whom God had poured out especial blessings.” (Clarke)
b. And righteousness from the God of his salvation: David here spoke in the idiom of the Old Covenant, where right standing with God might be assumed from the life of the obedient. At the same time, David wrote of a received righteousness that came from the God of his salvation.
i. We might say that the obedient life spoken of in Psalm 24:4 is the product of the received righteousness obtained by faith, the righteousness from the God of his salvation.
ii. Even with the important distinctions between the Old and New Covenants, it is a mistake to say that salvation was by works under the Old Covenant. One might say that in some sense blessing was by works of obedience, but righteousness was always and is always from the God of his salvation.
iii. Under the Old Covenant, that faith was often expressed by the trust in the work of sacrifice, looking forward to the ultimate, perfect sacrifice promised by God and fulfilled in the work of Jesus at the cross.
4. (6) A description of the blessed and righteous ones.
This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him,
Who seek Your face. Selah
a. This is Jacob: This was David’s way of identifying God’s covenant people. The blessed and righteous ones have entered into covenant with God.
b. The generation of those who seek Him: The blessed and righteous ones do more than enter into covenant with God; they also pursue Him with a continual seeking. This is something each generation must do afresh.
i. “Heaven is a generation of finders, of possessors, of enjoyers, seekers of God. But here we are a generation of seekers.” (Sibbes, cited in Spurgeon)
c. Who seek Your face: The idea is intensified by repetition, by description (to seek Your face is even closer than seeking Him), and by the use of a contemplative pause (Selah).
C. Receiving the great King.
1. (7-8) A call to welcome the God who reigns over all the earth.
Lift up your heads, O you gates!
And be lifted up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty,
The LORD mighty in battle.
a. Lift up your heads, O you gates: The first section of this psalm declared the greatness of God. The second section spoke of how man can come into relationship with this great God. Now the third section welcomes God unto His people by the opening of the gates.
i. “When the King of England wishes to enter the city of London, through the Temple Bar, the gate being closed against him, the herald demands entrance. ‘Open the gate.’ From within a voice is heard, ‘Who is there?’ The herald answers, ‘The King of England!’ The gate is at once opened, and the king passes, amidst the joyful acclamations of his people.” (Evans, cited in Spurgeon)
b. And the King of glory shall come in: If we assume that King David wrote this psalm either for the arrival of the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem or in commemoration of it, we can also see that “the singer saw in that ceremony the symbol of greater things.” (Morgan)
i. “Ancient rabbinical sources tell us that, in the Jewish liturgy, Psalm 24 was always used in worship on the first day of the week. The first day of the week is our Sunday. So, putting these facts together, we may assume that these were the words being recited by the temple priests at the very time the Lord Jesus Christ mounted a donkey and ascended the rocky approach to Jerusalem.” (Boice)
ii. Therefore we can make several connections to this idea that the King of glory shall come in.
· This was fulfilled when the ark of the covenant came to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:11-18).
· This was fulfilled when the ascended Jesus entered into heaven (Acts 1:9-10; Ephesians 1:20).
· This is fulfilled when an individual heart opens to Jesus as King.
c. And the King of glory shall come in: The idea is plain; it is assumed that when God is welcomed with open gates and doors, He is pleased to come in. The King of glory will meet with His people when approached correctly and the doors are opened unto Him.
i. The idea that the doors or gates might be opened unto God, but He would not come unto man, isn’t even considered. When we draw near to Him, He draws near to us (James 4:8).
ii. “For the Church is Christ’s temple; and every faithful soul is a gate thereof to let him in, as in Revelation 3:20.” (Trapp)
iii. In Revelation 3:20 this idea is presented as a plea from Jesus unto His people: Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. Jesus promised: open the door, and I will come in.
iv. “Surely, if there were doors and gates that needed to be lifted up before Christ could enter into heaven, much more are there doors and gates that must be opened to receive him into our hearts.” (Spurgeon)
v. “We must have the King of Glory within. To have Him without, even though He be on the Throne, will not avail.” (Meyer)
c. Who is the King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty: Perhaps with a touch of amazement, David notes that the same God who responds to man’s welcome is still the King of glory; He is mighty in battle. His openness to man doesn’t diminish His glory or might.
i. “The expression mighty in battle is but a stronger form of God’s title of ‘warrior’ first heard in the song of victory at the Red Sea (Exodus 15:3).” (Kidner)
2. (9-10) Repetition for the sake of emphasis.
Lift up your heads, O you gates!
Lift up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD of hosts,
He is the King of glory. Selah
a. Lift up your heads, O you gates: As is common in Hebrew poetry, repetition communicates emphasis. The ideas of Psalm 24:7-8 were important and glorious enough to repeat.
i. When Jesus entered Jerusalem at the Triumphal Entry, Matthew tells us that the city asked, “Who is this?” (Matthew 21:10). If they had known who He was, the response should have been, “The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory!”
ii. LORD of hosts: “Under whose command are all the hosts of heaven and earth, angels and men, and all other creatures.” (Poole)
iii. LORD of hosts: “In fact, the conception underlying the name is that of the universe as an ordered whole, a disciplined army, a cosmos obedient to His voice.” (Maclaren)
b. He is the King of glory. Selah: This psalm rightly ends on a reflective pause. It is no small thing that this King of glory stoops down to receive men and even to be received by men.
i. G. Campbell Morgan connected these three psalms of David (22, 23, and 24) in an interesting way. “By our calendars, yesterday He passed through Psalm 22. Today He is exercising the office of Psalm 23. Tomorrow, He will exercise finally the authority of Psalm 24.” (Morgan)
(c) 2020 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – firstname.lastname@example.org
Psalm 23 – The LORD Is My Shepherd and My Host
Like many others, this beloved psalm bears the simple title A Psalm of David. Most account it to be a psalm of David’s maturity, but with vivid remembrance of his youth as a shepherd. Charles Spurgeon wrote, “I like to recall the fact that this psalm was written by David, probably when he was a king. He had been a shepherd, and he was not ashamed of his former occupation.”
“It [Psalm 23] has charmed more griefs to rest than all the philosophy of the world. It has remanded to their dungeon more felon thoughts, more black doubts, more thieving sorrows, than there are sands on the sea-shore. It has comforted the noble host of the poor. It has sung courage to the army of the disappointed. It has poured balm and consolation into the heart of the sick, of captives in dungeons, of widows in their pinching griefs, of orphans in their loneliness. Dying soldiers have died easier as it was read to them; ghastly hospitals have been illuminated; it has visited the prisoner, and broken his chains, and, like Peter’s angel, led him forth in imagination, and sung him back to his home again. It has made the dying Christian slave freer than his master, and consoled those whom, dying, he left behind mourning, not so much that he was gone, as because they were left behind, and could not go, too.” (Henry Ward Beecher, cited in Charles Spurgeon)
“Millions of people have memorized this psalm, even those who have learned few other Scripture portions. Ministers have used it to comfort people who are going through severe personal trials, suffering illness, or dying. For some, the words of this psalm have been the last they have ever uttered in life.” (James Montgomery Boice)
A. The LORD as Shepherd sustains.
1. (1) A declaration and its immediate result.
The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
a. The LORD is my shepherd: David thought about God, the God of Israel; as he thought about his relationship with God, he made the analogy of a shepherd and his sheep. God was like a shepherd to David, and David was like a sheep to God.
i. In one sense, this was not unusual. There are other references to this analogy between the deity and his followers in ancient Middle Eastern cultures. “In all Eastern thought, and very definitely in Biblical literature, a king is a shepherd.” (Morgan)
ii. It is also a familiar idea throughout the Bible that the LORD is a shepherd to His people. The idea begins as early as the Book of Genesis, where Jacob called the LORD the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel (Genesis 49:24).
· In Psalm 28:9 David invited the LORD to shepherd the people of Israel, and to bear them up forever. Psalm 80:1 also looks to the LORD as the Shepherd of Israel, who would lead Joseph like a flock.
· Ecclesiastes 12:11 speaks of the words of the wise, which are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd.
· Isaiah 40:11 tells us that the LORD will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm. Micah 7:14 invites the LORD to Shepherd Your people with Your staff…As in days of old.
· Zechariah 13:7 speaks of the Messiah as the Shepherd who will be struck, and the sheep scattered (quoted in Matthew 26:31).
· In John 10:11 and 10:14, Jesus clearly spoke of Himself as the good shepherd, who gives His life for the sheep and who can say, “I know My sheep, and am known by My own.” Hebrews 13:20 speaks of Jesus as that great Shepherd of the sheep, 1 Peter 2:25 calls Jesus the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls, and 1 Peter 5:4 calls Jesus the Chief Shepherd.
· The idea of Jesus as the Good Shepherd was precious to early Christians. One of the more common motifs in catacomb paintings was Jesus as a shepherd, with a lamb carried across His shoulders.
iii. It’s remarkable that the LORD would call Himself our shepherd. “In Israel, as in other ancient societies, a shepherd’s work was considered the lowest of all works. If a family needed a shepherd, it was always the youngest son, like David, who got this unpleasant assignment…Jehovah has chosen to be our shepherd, David says. The great God of the universe has stooped to take just such care of you and me.” (Boice)
iv. “Saith Rabbi Joseph Bar Hamna, there is not a more contemptible office than that of a shepherd…. But God disdaineth not to feed his flock, to guide, to govern, to defend them, to handle and heal them, to tend and take care of them.” (Trapp)
v. David knew this metaphor in a unique way, having been a shepherd himself. “David uses the most comprehensive and intimate metaphor yet encountered in the Psalms, preferring usually the more distant ‘king’ or ‘deliverer’, or the impersonal ‘rock’, ‘shield’, etc.; whereas the shepherd lives with his flock and is everything to it: guide, physician and protector.” (Kidner)
b. The LORD is my shepherd: David knew this in a personal sense. He could say, “my shepherd.” It wasn’t just that the LORD was a shepherd for others in a theoretical sense; He was a real, personal shepherd for David himself.
i. “A sheep is an object of property, not a wild animal; its owner sets great store by it, and frequently it is bought with a great price. It is well to know, as certainly as David did, that we belong to the Lord. There is a noble tone of confidence about this sentence. There is no ‘if’ nor ‘but,’ nor even ‘I hope so;’ but he says, ‘The Lord is my shepherd.’” (Spurgeon)
ii. “The sweetest word of the whole is that monosyllable, ‘My.’ He does not say, ‘The Lord is the shepherd of the world at large, and leadeth forth the multitude as his flock,’ but ‘The Lord is my shepherd;’ if he be a Shepherd to no one else, he is a Shepherd to me; he cares for me, watches over me, and preserves me.” (Spurgeon)
iii. Overwhelmingly, the idea behind God’s role as shepherd is of loving care and concern. David found comfort and security in the thought that God cared for him like a shepherd cares for his sheep.
iv. David felt that he needed a shepherd. The heart of this psalm doesn’t connect with the self-sufficient. But those who acutely sense their need – the poor in spirit Jesus described in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:3) – find great comfort in the idea that God can be a shepherd to them in a personal sense.
v. Spurgeon said that before a man can truly say, “the LORD is my shepherd,” he must first feel himself to be a sheep by nature, “for he cannot know that God is his Shepherd unless he feels in himself that he has the nature of a sheep.” He must relate to a sheep in its foolishness, its dependency, and in the warped nature of its will.
vi. “A sheep, saith Aristotle, is a foolish and sluggish creature…aptest of anything to wander, though it feel no want, and unablest to return…a sheep can make no shift to save itself from tempests or inundation; there it stands and will perish, if not driven away by the shepherd.” (Trapp)
c. I shall not want: For David, the fact of God’s shepherd-like care was the end of dissatisfied need. He said, “I shall not want” both as a declaration and as a decision.
i. “I shall not want” means, “All my needs are supplied by the LORD, my shepherd.”
ii. “I shall not want” means, “I decide to not desire more than what the LORD, my shepherd gives.
2. (2) How the Shepherd sustains.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
a. He makes me to lie down: The LORD as a shepherd knew how to make David rest when he needed it, just as a literal shepherd would care for his sheep. The implication is that a sheep doesn’t always know what it needs and what is best for itself, and so needs help from the shepherd.
i. “The loveliest image afforded by the natural world, is here represented to the imagination; that of a flock, feeding in verdant meadows, and reposing, in quietness, by the rivers of water, running gently through them.” (Horne)
b. To lie down in green pastures: The shepherd also knew the good places to make his sheep rest. He faithfully guides the sheep to green pastures.
i. Philip Keller (in A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23) writes that sheep do not lie down easily and will not unless four conditions are met. Because they are timid, they will not lie down if they are afraid. Because they are social animals, they will not lie down if there is friction among the sheep. If flies or parasites trouble them, they will not lie down. Finally, if sheep are anxious about food or hungry, they will not lie down. Rest comes because the shepherd has dealt with fear, friction, flies, and famine.
c. He leads me beside the still waters: The shepherd knows when the sheep needs green pastures, and knows when the sheep needs the still waters. The images are rich with the sense of comfort, care, and rest.
B. The LORD as Shepherd leads.
1. (3) Where the Shepherd leads and why.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
a. He restores my soul: The tender care of the shepherd described in the previous verse had its intended effect. David’s soul was restored by the figurative green pastures and still waters the shepherd brought him to.
i. Restores has the idea of the rescue of a lost one. “It may picture the straying sheep brought back.” (Kidner)
ii. “In Hebrew the words ‘restores my soul’ can mean ‘brings me to repentance’ (or conversion).” (Boice)
iii. “‘He restoreth my soul.’ He restores it to its original purity, that was now grown foul and black with sin; for also, what good were it to have ‘green’ pastures and a black soul!” (Baker, cited in Spurgeon)
b. He leads me: The shepherd was a guide. The sheep didn’t need to know where the green pastures or still waters were; all it needed to know was where the shepherd was. Likewise, the LORD would guide David to what he needed.
c. In the paths of righteousness: The leadership of the shepherd did not only comfort and restore David; He also guides His sheep into righteousness. God’s guidance of David had a moral aspect.
i. “They are thenceforth led in ‘the path of righteousness’; in the way of holy obedience. Obstructions are removed; they are strengthened, to walk and run in the paths of God’s commandments.” (Horne)
d. For His name’s sake: The shepherd guides the sheep with an overarching view to the credit and glory of the shepherd’s own name.
i. For His name’s sake: “To display the glory of his grace, and not on account of any merit in me. God’s motives of conduct towards the children of men are derived from the perfections and goodness of his own nature.” (Clarke)
2. (4) The gift of the Shepherd’s presence.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
a. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death: This is the first dark note in this beautiful psalm. Previously David wrote of green pastures and still waters and paths of righteousness. Yet when following the LORD as shepherd, one may still walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
i. David used this powerful phrase to speak of some kind of dark, fearful experience. It is an imprecise phrase, yet its poetry makes perfect sense.
· It is a valley, not a mountaintop or broad meadow. A valley suggests being hedged in and surrounded.
· It is a valley of the shadow of death – not facing the substance of death itself, but the shadow of death, casting its dark, fearful outline across David’s path.
· It is a valley of the shadow of death, facing what seemed to David as the ultimate defeat and evil.
ii. Notably, David recognized that under the shepherd’s leading, he may walk through the valley of the shadow of death. It isn’t his destination or dwelling place. Like the Preacher in Ecclesiastes, David might say that all of life is lived under the shadow of death, and it is the conscious presence of the LORD as shepherd that makes it bearable.
iii. This line is especially suggestive when we read this psalm with an eye toward Jesus, the Great Shepherd. We understand that a shadow is not tangible but is cast by something that is. One can rightly say that we face only the shadow of death because Jesus took the full reality of death in our place.
b. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death: This line from the psalm – and the psalm as a whole – has proven itself precious to many a dying saint through the ages. They have been comforted, strengthened, and warmed by the thought that the LORD would shepherd them through the valley of the shadow of death.
i. Near death, the saint still calmly walks – he does not need to quicken his pace in alarm or panic. Near death, the saint does not walk in the valley, but through the valley.
ii. “Death in its substance has been removed, and only the shadow of it remains…. Nobody is afraid of a shadow, for a shadow cannot stop a man’s pathway even for a moment. The shadow of a dog cannot bite; the shadow of a sword cannot kill; the shadow of death cannot destroy us.” (Spurgeon)
iii. “It has an inexpressibly delightful application to the dying; but it is for the living, too…. The words are not in the future tense, and therefore are not reserved for a distant moment.” (Spurgeon)
c. I will fear no evil: Despite every dark association with the idea of the valley of the shadow of death, David could resolutely say this because he was under the care of the LORD his shepherd. Even in a fearful place, the presence of the shepherd banished the fear of evil.
i. We might say that the shepherd’s presence did not eliminate the presence of evil, but certainly the fear of evil.
d. For You are with me: This emphasizes that it is the presence of the shepherd that eliminated the fear of evil for the sheep. No matter his present environment, David could look to the fact of God’s shepherd-like presence and know, “You are with me” and “I will fear no evil.”
i. Significantly, it is at the dangerous moment pictured in the psalm that the “He” of Psalm 23:1-3 changes to “You.” The LORD as Shepherd is now in the second person.
e. Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me: The rod and the staff were instruments used by a shepherd. The idea is of a sturdy walking stick, used to gently (as much as possible) guide the sheep and protect them from potential predators.
i. There is some debate among commentators as to whether David had the idea of two separate instruments (the rod and the staff) or one instrument used two ways. The Hebrew word for rod (shaybet) here seems to simply mean “a stick” with a variety of applications. The Hebrew word for staff (mishaynaw) seems to speak of “a support” in the sense of a walking stick.
ii. Kidner notes: “The rod (a cudgel worn at the belt) and staff (to walk with, and to round up the flock) were the shepherd’s weapon and implement: the former for defence (cf. 1 Samuel 17:35), and the latter for control – since discipline is security.”
iii. Maclaren writes: “The rod and the staff seem to be two names for one instrument, which was used both to beat off predatory animals and to direct the sheep.”
iv. These instruments (or instrument) of guidance were a comfort to David. It helped him – even in the valley of the shadow of death – to know that God guided him, even through correction. It is a great comfort to know that God will correct us when we need it.
C. The LORD as Host.
1. (5) Blessing in the presence of danger.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
a. You prepare a table before me: Without departing from the previous picture of the valley of the shadow of death, David envisioned the provision and goodness given by the LORD as a host, inviting David to a rich table prepared for him.
i. “Here the second allegory begins. A magnificent banquet is provided by a most liberal and benevolent host; who has not only the bounty to feed me, but power to protect me; and, though surrounded by enemies, I sit down to this table with confidence, knowing that I shall feast in perfect security.” (Clarke)
ii. David gives a beautiful picture: table suggests bounty; prepare suggests foresight and care; before me suggests the personal connection.
b. In the presence of my enemies: This is a striking phrase. The goodness and care suggested by the prepared table is set right in the midst of the presence of my enemies. The host’s care and concern doesn’t eliminate the presence of my enemies but enables the experience of God’s goodness and bounty even in their midst.
i. “This is the condition of God’s servant – always conflict, but always a spread table.” (Maclaren)
ii. “When a soldier is in the presence of his enemies, if he eats at all he snatches a hasty meal, and away he hastens to the fight. But observe: ‘Thou preparest a table,’ just as a servant does when she unfolds the damask cloth and displays the ornaments of the feast on an ordinary peaceful occasion. Nothing is hurried, there is no confusion, no disturbance, the enemy is at the door and yet God prepares a table, and the Christian sits down and eats as if everything were in perfect peace.” (Spurgeon)
c. You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over: Despite the dangers about and the presence of enemies, David enjoyed the richness of his host’s goodness. He was refreshed by a head anointed with oil; his cup was over-filled.
i. “Beloved, I will ask you now a question. How would it be with you if God had filled your cup in proportion to your faith? How much would you have had in your cup?” (Spurgeon)
ii. “Those that have this happiness must carry their cup upright, and see that it overflows into their poor brethren’s emptier vessels.” (Trapp)
2. (6) Blessing for the future.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD
a. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: The host’s care brought the goodness and mercy of God to David, and he lived in the faithful expectation of it continuing all the days of his life.
i. “Mercy is the covenant-word rendered ‘steadfast love’ elsewhere…. Together with goodness it suggests the steady kindness and support that one can count on in the family or between firm friends.” (Kidner)
ii. “We are well escorted, with a Shepherd in front and these twin angels behind!” (Meyer)
iii. “These twin guardian angels will always be with me at my back and my beck. Just as when great princes go abroad they must not go unattended, so it is with the believer.” (Spurgeon)
b. And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever: The psalm ends with the calmest assurance that he would enjoy the presence of the LORD forever – both in his days on this earth and beyond.
i. “In the Old Testament world, to eat and drink at someone’s table created a bond of mutual loyalty, and could be the culminated token of a covenant…. So to be God’s guest is to be more than an acquaintance, invited for a day. It is to live with Him.” (Kidner)
ii. “While I am here I will be a child at home with my God; the whole world shall be his house to me; and when I ascend into the upper chamber I shall not change my company, nor even change the house; I shall only go to dwell in the upper story of the house of the Lord for ever.” (Spurgeon)
(c) 2020 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – email@example.com
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