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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 86

Ellicott's Commentary for English ReadersEllicott's Commentary



This psalm is mainly composed of a number of sentences and verses from older compositions, arranged not without art, and, where it suited the adapter, so altered as to present forms of words peculiar to himself. (See Notes on Psalms 86:5-6.) There is also evidence of design in the employment of the Divine names, Adonai being repeatedly substituted for Jehovah.

Title.—See end of Psalms 42:0 and Introduction above.

Verse 2

(2) For I am holy.—Rather, in order to reproduce the feeling, for I am one of the chosen ones; one of Thy saints, &c. He pleads the covenant relation as a claim to the blessing. (See, on chasid, Note, Psalms 1:5.)

Verse 5

(5) For thou.—Up to this time the psalmist has only put forward his needs in various aspects as a plea for God’s compassion. Now, not without art, he clenches his petition by an appeal to the nature itself of the Divine Being. The originals of the expressions in this verse will be found in Exodus 20:6; Exodus 34:6-9; Numbers 14:18-19.

Ready to forgive.—The Hebrew word occurs nowhere else in the form found here. Etymologically it means remitting. The LXX. have ἐπιεικὴς, a word for which perhaps our considerate is the nearest equivalent, implying that legal right is overlooked and suspended in consideration of human weakness. Wis. 12:18 gives a good description of this Divine attribute.

Verse 6

(6) Give ear.—Here the petition takes a new starting-point.

Verse 8

(8) For the sources of this verse see marginal reference and Exodus 15:11. After expressing his conviction of God’s willingness to hear prayer, the psalmist goes on to his confidence in Divine power to save.

Verse 9

(9) For this wide prospect of Divine dominion see Psalms 22:31; Isaiah 43:7.

Verse 11

(11) A reminiscence of older psalms. In addition to the marginal references, see Psalms 26:3.

Unite my hearti.e., unite all my powers and concentrate them on Thy service. No doubt with recollection of Deuteronomy 6:5; Deuteronomy 10:12. Comp. also Jeremiah 32:39, on which apparently the expression is directly based. An undivided will is in morals and religion equally essential.

Verses 12-13

(12, 13) Comp. Psalms 56:13; Psalms 57:9-10.

Verse 13

(13) Lowest hell.—Literally, sheôl, beneath, a fuller expression for the usual sheôl, underworld. (See Note, Psalms 6:5.) There is no comparison implied as in the Authorised Version. It is evident from the next verse that what is meant is danger of death from violence.

Verse 14

(14) See Note, Psalms 54:3, whence the verse is taken.

Verse 16

(16) Servant . . . son of thine handmaid.—Comp. Psalms 116:16. The combined expressions imply a homeborn slave. (Comp. Genesis 14:14; Jeremiah 2:14)

Verse 17

(17) A token for goodi.e., some sign of continued or renewed providential care and love, such, indeed, as an Israelite under the old covenant saw, and every pious heart under the new sees, in what to others is an every-day occurrence. The expression for good is a favourite one with Nehemiah (Nehemiah 5:19; Nehemiah 13:31) and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 24:5-6, and comp. Romans 8:28. &c).

Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Psalms 86". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ebc/psalms-86.html. 1905.
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