Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
"The servant of the LORD," which in the
Hebrew precedes "David," is a significant part of the title (and
not a mere epithet of David), denoting the inspired character of the
song, as the production of one entrusted with the execution of God's
will. He was not favored by God because he served Him, but served Him
because selected and appointed by God in His sovereign mercy. After a
general expression of praise and confidence in God for the future,
David gives a sublimely poetical description of God's deliverance,
which he characterizes as an illustration of God's justice to the
innocent and His righteous government. His own prowess and success are
celebrated as the results of divine aid, and, confident of its
continuance, he closes in terms of triumphant praise.
is a copy of this Psalm, with a few unimportant variations recorded
there as a part of the history, and repeated here as part of a
collection designed for permanent use.
1. I will love thee--with most tender affection.
2, 3. The various terms used describe God as an object of the most
implicit and reliable trust.
rock--literally, "a cleft rock," for concealment.
strength--a firm, immovable rock.
horn of my salvation--The horn, as the means of attack or defense
of some of the strongest animals, is a frequent emblem of power or
strength efficiently exercised (compare
tower--literally, "high place," beyond reach of danger.
3. to be praised--for past favors, and worthy of confidence.
4. sorrows--literally, "bands as of a net"
5. death--and hell (compare
are personified as man's great enemies (compare
Re 20:13, 14).
prevented--encountered me, crossed my path, and endangered my safety.
He does not mean he was in their power.
6. He relates his methods to procure relief when distressed, and his
7, 8. God's coming described in figures drawn from His appearance on
8. smoke out . . . his nostrils--bitter in His wrath (compare
by it--that is, the fire
9. darkness--or, a dense cloud
10. cherub--angelic agents (compare
the figures of which were placed over the ark
representing God's dwelling; used here to enhance the majesty of the
divine advent. Angels and winds may represent all
rational and irrational agencies of God's providence (compare
Ps 104:3, 4).
did fly--Rapidity of motion adds to the grandeur of the scene.
11. dark waters--or, clouds heavy with vapor.
12. Out of this obscurity, which impresses the beholder with awe and
dread, He reveals Himself by sudden light and the means of His terrible
13. The storm breaks forth--thunder follows lightning, and hail with
repeated lightning, as often seen, like balls or coals of fire, succeed
14. The fiery brightness of lightning, in shape like burning arrows
rapidly shot through the air, well represents the most terrible part of
an awful storm. Before the terrors of such a scene the enemies are
confounded and overthrown in dismay.
15. The tempest of the air is attended by appropriate results on earth.
The language, though not expressive of any special physical changes,
represents the utter subversion of the order of nature. Before such a
God none can stand.
16-19. from above--As seated on a throne, directing these terrible
reached down to His humble worshipper, and delivered him.
Ps 124:4, 5).
19. a large place--denotes safety or relief, as contrasted with the
straits of distress
All his deliverance is ascribed to God, and this sublime poetical
representation is given to inspire the pious with confidence and the
wicked with dread.
20-24. The statements of innocence, righteousness, &c., refer,
doubtless, to his personal and official conduct and his purposes,
during all the trials to which he was subjected in Saul's persecutions
and Absalom's rebellions, as well as the various wars in which he had
been engaged as the head and defender of God's Church and people.
23. upright before him--In my relation to God I have been perfect
as to all parts of His law. The perfection does not relate to degree.
mine iniquity--perhaps the thought of his heart to kill Saul
That David does not allude to all his conduct, in all relations, is
25-27. God renders to men according to their deeds in a penal, not
(Le 26:23, 24).
26. froward--contrary to.
27. the afflicted people--that is, the humbly pious.
(Ps 101:5; 131:1).
28. To give one light is to make prosperous
(Job 18:5, 6; 21:17).
thou--is emphatic, as if to say, I can fully confide in Thee for
29. And this on past experience in his military life, set forth by
30-32. God's perfection is the source of his own, which has resulted
from his trust on the one hand, and God's promised help on the other.
tried--"as metals are tried by fire and proved genuine"
Girding was essential to free motion on account of the looseness
of Oriental dresses; hence it is an expressive figure for describing
the gift of strength.
33-36. God's help farther described. He gives swiftness to pursue
or elude his enemies
strength, protection, and a firm footing.
35. thy gentleness--as applied to God--condescension--or that which
He gives, in the sense of humility (compare
36. enlarged my steps--made ample room (compare
37-41. In actual conflict, with God's aid, the defeat of his
enemies is certain. A present and continued success is expressed.
39. that rose up against me--literally, "insurgents"
(Ps 3:1; 44:5).
40. given me the necks--literally, "backs of the necks"; made them
42. This conquest was complete.
43-45. Not only does He conquer civil foes, but foreigners, who are
driven from their places of refuge.
44. submit, &c.--(compare Margin)--that is, show a forced
46. The Lord liveth--contrasts Him with idols
47, 48. avengeth me--His cause is espoused by God as His own.
48. liftest me up--to safety and honors.
49, 50. Paul
quotes from this doxology to show that under the Old Testament economy,
others than the Jews were regarded as subjects of that spiritual
government of which David was head, and in which character his
deliverances and victories were typical of the more illustrious
triumphs of David's greater Son. The language of
justifies this view in its distinct allusion to the great promise
In all David's successes he saw the pledges of a fulfilment of that
promise, and he mourned in all his adversities, not only in view of his
personal suffering, but because he saw in them evidences of danger to
the great interests which were committed to his keeping. It is in these
aspects of his character that we are led properly to appreciate the
importance attached to his sorrows and sufferings, his joys and