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This Psalm contains a solemn thanksgiving to God for a glorious deliverance from grievous and dangerous calamities; as also from great perplexities and terrors of mind arising from the sense of God’s displeasure.
The psalmist professeth his love to God for his manifold mercies in delivering him out of great straits and dangers, Psalms 116:8; promising to walk holily, prayeth for his future protection, studieth and promiseth to be thanked, Psalms 116:9-19.
Heb. in my days; as long as I have a day to live, as this phrase is used, 2 Kings 20:19; Isaiah 39:8. Compare Job 27:6.
The sorrows of death; dangerous and deadly calamities, as bitter as death. Or, the cords of death.
Of hell; or, of the grave; or, of death; either killing pains, or such agonies and horrors as dying persons use to feel within themselves.
Gat hold upon me, Heb. found me, i.e. surprised me. Having been long pursuing me, at last they overtook me, and seized upon me, and I gave up myself for lost.
Gracious is the Lord: this he mentions either,
1. As that which he found by experience in answer to his prayers; or,
2. As the argument by which he encouraged himself to pray.
And righteous; therefore he will maintain me and my just cause against my unrighteous oppressors, and perform his promises, and save those who faithfully serve aim and put their trust in him.
The simple; sincere and plain-hearted persons, who dare not use those frauds and crafty and wicked artifices in saving themselves or destroying their enemies, but wait upon God with honest hearts in his way and for his time of deliverance; which was the case of David, who, though he had the prospect and the promise of the kingdom, yet would not make haste to it by indirect courses, as by cutting off Saul, when he had great provocation and fair opportunity to do it; of which see 1 Samuel 24:0; 1 Samuel 26:0. Such persons he calls simple or foolish, as this word is commonly rendered, not because they are really so, but because the world esteems them so.
Unto thy rest; unto that tranquillity of mind and cheerful confidence in God’s promises and providence which thou didst once enjoy.
My soul; myself.
From falling, to wit, into mischief, and the pit of destruction.
I will walk before the Lord; or, I shall walk, &c. This is either,
1. The psalmist’s promise to God in requital of the favour last mentioned; I will therefore please God, as this phrase is used, Genesis 5:24, compared with Hebrews 11:5; Genesis 17:1. I will devote myself to the worship and service of God. Or,
2. His thankful acknowledgment of God’s further favour. Though I be now banished from the place of thy presence and worship, yet I assure myself that I shall be restored to it, and shall spend my days in thy house and service, which is the one thing that I desired above all other things, Psalms 27:4.
In the land of the living; amongst living men of this world. See Poole "Psalms 27:13".
I believed, to wit, God’s promise of deliverance and of the kingdom made to me by Samuel, which I was confident he would perform in spite of discouragements and difficulties.
Therefore have I spoken: so these words are translated, as by others, so by the apostle, 2 Corinthians 4:13. I have spoken; either,
1. What I have now said, Psalms 116:9; or,
2. What I have uttered to others concerning God’s promises made to me; which I was not ashamed nor afraid to publish when I had occasion, because I was fully persuaded that God would make them good.
I was greatly afflicted; or, when I was, &c.; or, although I was, &c.; such particles being very frequently understood. The sense is, And this I did even in the midst of many and sore afflictions.
I said; yet once I confess I spake very unadvisedly. In my haste; through hastiness and precipitation of my mind, for want of due consideration, as the same phrase is used, Psalms 31:22. Or, in my terror or amazement, when I was discomposed and distracted with the greatness of my troubles.
All men are liars: the sense is either,
1. All men, yea, even my former friends and companions, prove deceitful and perfidious, all human help faileth me; so that my case is desperate, if God do not help me. Or,
2. All men, God’s own prophets not excepted, are liable to mistakes by the condition of their nature, as they are men, and therefore may easily deceive others; and this might be the case of Samuel in his promise of the kingdom to me. Thus he questions the truth of God’s promises, yet so as he doth not strike directly at God, but only reflects upon the instrument.
Yet notwithstanding all my dangers and my distrust of God too, God hath conferred so many and great blessings upon me, that I can never make sufficient returns to him for them.
I will take the cup of salvation; I will offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving to God, as this phrase seems to be explained below, Psalms 116:17, where the latter clause of the verse is the same with that which here follows. The phrase is taken from the common practice of the Jews in their thank-offerings, in which a feast was made of the remainders of the sacrifices, and the offerers, together with the priests, did eat and drink before the Lord, and, amongst other rites, the master of the feast took a cup of wine into his hand, and solemnly blessed God for it, and for the mercy which was then acknowledged, and then gave it to all the guests, who drunk successively of it; see 1 Chronicles 16:2,1 Chronicles 16:3; to which custom it is supposed that our blessed Saviour alludes in the institution of the cup, which also is called the cup of blessing, 1 Corinthians 10:16, which is in effect the same with the cup of salvation. This metaphor of a cup is used both of afflictions, as Psalms 11:6; Psalms 75:8, and of comforts, as Psalms 23:5; Jeremiah 16:7.
Call upon the name of the Lord; or, publish or preach in or of the name of the Lord, i.e. his gracious nature, and the great things which he hath done for me. For he speaks of praise rather than of prayer, as appears both from the former clause, and by comparing Psalms 116:17.
My vows; the praises and sacrifices which I vowed to God in the time of my distress.
In the presence of all his people; that they who heard my vows, or understood them by the report of others, might be witnesses of my payment of them, and not be scandalized by my unfaithfulness in that matter.
He sets a high price upon it; he will not readily grant it to those that greedily seek it; and if any son of violence procure it, he will make him, pay very dearly for it; and when the saints suffer it for God’s sake, as they frequently do, it is a most acceptable sacrifice to God, and highly esteemed by him. Thus the blood of God’s people is said to be precious in his sight, Psalms 72:14. And, in the same sense, the life of a man is said to be precious in his eyes who spareth and preserveth it, as 1 Samuel 26:21; 2 Kings 1:13. God’s people are precious in his eyes, both living and dying; for whether they live, they live unto the Lord; or whether they die, they die unto the Lord, Romans 14:8.
I am thy servant: this is either,
1. An argument used in prayer, It becometh thee to protect and save thy own servants, as every good master doth; or rather,
2. A thankful acknowledgment of his great obligations to God, whereby he was in duty bound to be the Lord’s faithful and perpetual servant. For this suits best with the context.
The son of thine handmaid; either,
1. The son of a mother who was devoted and did devote me to thy service. Or,
2. Like one born in thy house of one of thy servants, and so thine by a most strict and double obligation.
Thou hast loosed my bonds; thou hast rescued me from mine enemies, whose captive and vassal I was, and therefore hast a just right and title to me and to my service.
And as I said before, so I now repeat my promise, for the greater assurance, and to lay the stricter obligation upon myself.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 116". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19