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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Psalms 13

Verse 1

Psalms 13:0.

David complaineth of delay in help: he prayeth for preventing grace; he boasteth of divine mercy.

To the chief musician. A Psalm of David.

Title. לדוד מזמור למנצח lamnatseach mizmor ledavid. This psalm was written by David, when, as Theodoret thinks, he was greatly distressed by his rebellious son Absalom. In the first four verses he represents his danger, and prays for deliverance: in the last, he expresses his assurance of obtaining it. The Arabic title of this Psalm is remarkable: "In this Psalm mention is made of the insolence of his enemies, with a prophesy of the presence of Christ."

Verse 2

Psalms 13:2. How long shall I take counsel, &c.— Or, according to the original, revolve divers thoughts in my mind? as persons do who are reduced to the last extremity, and very anxious and uncertain what resolutions to take.

Verse 3

Psalms 13:3. Lighten mine eyes The meaning of this phrase may perhaps be best judged of by Jonathan's speech, 1Sa 14:29 for he, being very hungry and ready to faint, dipped his rod in an honeycomb, and ate of it; and the text saith, his eyes were enlightened; i.e. he was refreshed by it. But this enlightening of the eyes may, by an easy metaphor, be applied to the political state. When in any time of affliction, expressed frequently by darkness and gloominess, a person is relieved and refreshed, his eyes are said to be enlightened in proportion to that refreshment which hungry fainting persons receive by meat. So Ezra 9:8. The restitution, after captivity, giving the Jews a little reviving in their bondage, is styled God's lightening their eyes. And so in this place the sadness which lay upon David was parallel to a fainting fit of hunger in the body, or to captivity in a state, which, if it were not speedily relieved, would soon end in death.

REFLECTIONS.—Though cast down by affliction, while we have a throne of grace open, we never need despair. Hither David flies with his complaints and prayers.

1. He bewails his present dejected state, and expostulates with God on the length and severity of his sufferings. How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? Not that God's all-comprehending mind ever forgets, or that his people especially are neglected or forsaken of him; but it is the language of unbelieving fear, by which our foolish hearts aggravate their sorrows. For ever? Every moment seems long to the afflicted, especially to those who, as the summit of their other griefs, experience darkness and desertion in their souls. How long wilt thou hide thy face from me? with this support all other evils would be tolerable; but this withdrawn, adds aggravated weight to the burden. How long shall I take counsel in my soul? uncertain how to act, and filled with anxious care; whilst, in a labyrinth of trials, no way appears to extricate myself from them, having sorrow in my heart daily.

2. In his distress, when severely thrust at, and the length of his trials almost overcoming his hopes of relief, he lifts up his heart to God. Consider, look upon my distressed case with concern for my suffering; and hear me mourn in my prayer; O Lord my God, in whom I will still trust, though thou slay me. Thou art my God, and I will never quit my plea of interest in thy regard. Note; If we can say, my God, under our deepest trials, surely there is hope of their end. The matter of his prayer is, Lighten mine eyes, dim with sorrow and fear; shine into me to dispel the clouds of unbelief; guide me in the way, that I may see the door of escape open, and be refreshed and comforted after this night of spiritual darkness, lest I sleep the sleep of death, pine away in my body, decay in my soul, or perish in my iniquities.

3. He urges the malicious pleasure that his enemies would take in his fall, and the dishonour which would consequently be cast on God. Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; for Satan triumphs in the success of his devices; and those that trouble me, my persecuting foes, rejoice when I am moved; tempted to sin, or to despair under it. Note; The world takes a malicious pleasure in the christian's fall; and men are happy, if they can find any thing to make them hope that he is no better than themselves.

4. He expresses his humble confidence, that, amidst all he felt, God would support and comfort him. But I have trusted in thy mercy; merit I disclaim, hope or help in myself I have none; but in thee I trust; and therefore my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation: thine, for thou art able to save to the uttermost; and therefore I will encourage my soul in hope. I will sing unto the Lord, the gratitude of my heart shall speak in my joyful lips, because he hath dealt bountifully with me; he hath, for faith realises the promise, and gives present subsistence to the expected relief. Note; (1.) When we come to God in our miseries, in prayer to pour out our souls to him, he will send us away rejoicing; and, like Hannah, our countenance shall no more be sad, 1 Samuel 1:18. (2.) Singing of psalms is the ancient practice of God's saints; and wherever there is found a heart to trust him, there will be a mouth to praise him.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 13". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.