Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
The obscure words Aijeleth Shahar in this title have various
explanations. Most interpreters agree in translating them by "hind of
the morning." But great difference exists as to the meaning of these
words. By some they are supposed (compare
to be the name of the tune to which the words of the Psalm were set; by
others, the name of a musical instrument. Perhaps the best view is to
regard the phrase as enigmatically expressive of the subject--the
sufferer being likened to a hind pursued by hunters in the early
morning (literally, "the dawn of day")--or that, while hind
suggests the idea of a meek, innocent sufferer, the addition of morning
denotes relief obtained. The feelings of a pious sufferer in sorrow and
deliverance are vividly portrayed. He earnestly pleads for divine aid
on the ground of his relation to God, whose past goodness to His people
encourages hope, and then on account of the imminent danger by which he
is threatened. The language of complaint is turned to that of rejoicing
in the assured prospect of relief from suffering and triumph over his
enemies. The use of the words of the first clause of
by our Saviour on the cross, and the quotation of
as fulfilled in His history, clearly intimate the prophetical and
Messianic purport of the Psalm. The intensity of the grief, and the
completeness and glory of the deliverance and triumph, alike appear to
be unsuitable representations of the fortunes of any less personage. In
a general and modified sense (see on
the experience here detailed may be adapted to the case of all
Christians suffering from spiritual foes, and delivered by divine aid,
inasmuch as Christ in His human nature was their head and
1. A summary of the complaint. Desertion by God, when overwhelmed
by distress, is the climax of the sufferer's misery.
words of my roaring--shows that the complaint is expressed
intelligently, though the term "roaring" is figurative, taken from the
conduct of irrational creatures in pain.
2. The long distress is evinced by--
am not silent--literally, "not silence to me," either meaning, I
continually cry; or, corresponding with "thou hearest not," or
answerest not, it may mean, there is no rest or quiet to me.
3. Still he not only refrains from charging God foolishly, but evinces
his confidence in God by appealing to Him.
thou art holy--or possessed of all the attributes which encourage
trust, and the right object of the praises of the Church: hence the
sufferer need not despair.
4, 5. Past experience of God's people is a ground of trust. The
mention of "our fathers" does not destroy the applicability of the
words as the language of our Saviour's human nature.
6. He who was despised and rejected of His own people, as a disgrace to
the nation, might well use these words of deep abasement, which express
not His real, but esteemed, value.
7, 8. For the Jews used one of the gestures
here mentioned, when taunting Him on the cross, and
reproached Him almost in the very, language of this passage.
shoot out--or, "open."
8. trusted on the Lord--literally, "rolled"--that is, his burden
on the Lord. This is the language of enemies sporting with his faith in
the hour of his desertion.
9, 10. Though ironically spoken, the exhortation to trust was well
founded on his previous experience of divine aid, the special
illustration of which is drawn from the period of helpless infancy.
didst make me hope--literally, "made me secure."
11. From this statement of reasons for the appeal, he renews it,
pleading his double extremity, the nearness of trouble, and the absence
of a helper.
12, 13. His enemies, with the vigor of bulls and rapacity of lions,
surround him, eagerly seeking his ruin. The force of both figures is
greater without the use of any particle denoting comparison.
14, 15. Utter exhaustion and hopeless weakness, in these circumstances
of pressing danger, are set forth by the most expressive figures; the
solidity of the body is destroyed, and it becomes like water; the bones
are parted; the heart, the very seat of vitality, melts like wax; all
the juices of the system are dried up; the tongue can no longer perform
its office, but lies parched and stiffened (compare
In this, God is regarded as the ultimate source, and men as the
15. the dust of death--of course, denotes the grave. We need not try to
find the exact counterpart of each item of the description in the
particulars of our Saviour's sufferings. Figurative language resembles
pictures of historical scenes, presenting substantial truth, under
illustrations, which, though not essential to the facts, are not
inconsistent with them. Were any portion of Christ's terrible
sufferings specially designed, it was doubtless that of the garden of
16. Evildoers are well described as dogs, which, in the East, herding
together, wild and rapacious, are justly objects of great abhorrence.
The last clause has been a subject of much discussion (involving
questions as to the genuineness of the Hebrew word translated
"pierce)" which cannot be made intelligible to the English reader.
Though not quoted in the New Testament, the remarkable aptness of the
description to the facts of the Saviour's history, together with
difficulties attending any other mode of explaining the clause in the
Hebrew, justify an adherence to the terms of our version and their
17. His emaciated frame, itself an item of his misery, is rendered
more so as the object of delighted contemplation to his enemies. The
verbs, "look" and "stare," often occur as suggestive of feelings of
Ps 27:13; 54:7; 118:7).
18. This literally fulfilled prediction closes the sad picture of the
exposed and deserted sufferer.
19, 20. He now turns with unabated desire and trust to God, who, in
His strength and faithfulness, is contrasted with the urgent dangers
20. my soul--or self (compare
Ps 3:2; 16:10).
my darling--literally, "my only one," or, "solitary one," as desolate
(Ps 25:16; 35:17).
21. Deliverance pleaded in view of former help, when in the most
imminent danger, from the most powerful enemy, represented by the
unicorn or wild buffalo.
the lion's mouth--(Compare
The lion often used as a figure representing violent enemies; the
connecting of the mouth intimates their rapacity.
22-24. He declares his purpose to celebrate God's gracious dealings
and publish His manifested perfections ("name,"
&c., and forthwith he invites the pious (those who have a reverential
fear of God) to unite in special praise for a deliverance, illustrating
God's kind regard for the lowly, whom men neglect
To hide the face (or eyes) expresses a studied neglect of one's
cause, and refusal of aid or sympathy (compare
25, 26. My praise shall be of thee--or, perhaps better, "from thee,"
that is, God gives grace to praise Him. With offering praise, he
further evinces his gratitude by promising the payment of his vows, in
celebrating the usual festival, as provided in the law
(De 12:18; 16:11),
of which the pious or humble, and they that seek the Lord (His true
worshippers) shall partake abundantly, and join him in praise
In the enthusiasm produced by his lively feelings, he addresses such in
words, assuring them of God's perpetual favor
The dying of the heart denotes death
so its living denotes life.
27-31. His case illustrates God's righteous government. Beyond the
existing time and people, others shall be brought to acknowledge and
worship God; the fat ones, or the rich as well as the poor, the
helpless who cannot keep themselves alive, shall together unite in
celebrating God's delivering power, and transmit to unborn people the
records of His grace.
30. it shall be accounted to the Lord for, &c.--or, "it shall be
told of the Lord to a generation." God's wonderful works shall be told
from generation to generation.
31. that he hath done this--supply "it," or "this"--that is, what
the Psalm has unfolded.