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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 54

Coke's Commentary on the Holy BibleCoke's Commentary

Verse 1

Psalms 54:0.

David, complaining of the Ziphims, prayeth for salvation: upon his confidence in God's help, he promiseth sacrifice.

To the chief musician on Neginoth, Maschil, A Psalm of David, when the Ziphims came and said to Saul, Doth not David hide himself with us?

Title. הזפים בנגינתאּבבוא למנצח lamnatseach binginoth—bebo hazziphim. To the chief musician on Neginoth—when the Ziphims To the master of the stringed instruments—when the Ziphites. This Psalm begins with a prayer to God for his protection. The Psalmist then represents his danger from lawless oppressive men, who sought after his life. He encourages himself by faith and hope in God, and declares his resolution to render a solemn sacrifice of thanksgiving to his kind preserver, who had delivered him out of all his troubles. Of the suitableness of the Psalm to the occasion, every one who reads it will be convinced.

Psalms 54:1. Save me, O God, by thy name The name of God frequently denotes the attributes, or providence, or operations of God, in the sacred writings; and to be saved by his name, is to be saved by the interposition of his power and goodness. Or the words may be rendered, Save me, בשׁמךֶ beshimka, because of thy name; viz. "to vindicate the honour of it, and thy truth and faithfulness in the promises thou hast made me." See Nold. p. 152 sect. 23. Judge me by thy strength, or power, means, "determine, decide my cause, by thy mighty power." Saul, in the cause between him and David, was resolved to end it by force only, and to arbitrate it no other way than by a javelin, a sword, or his forces. The Psalmist well knew that Saul, in this respect, would be too hard for him; and therefore applies for protection and justice to one, whose power he knew was infinitely superior to that of his adversaries, and who, he was assured, could and would defend him.

Verse 3

Psalms 54:3. Strangers are risen up against me The inhabitants of Ziph, and of the wilderness and mountains near it, might very probably, as some think, be chiefly aliens and foreigners, under the dominion of the Hebrews. But it is to be remarked, that זרים zarim, strangers, is not always to be understood of persons who are strangers by birth or nation, but as to acquaintance, manners, and affection, of a hostile disposition and mind, strangers as to religion, virtue, compassion, and humanity. See Psalms 69:8.; Hosea 5:7. That this is the Psalmist's meaning appears from the following words: Oppressors seek after my life, who have not set God before them: a description which well agrees with the character and conduct of these treacherous Ziphites. Chandler.

Verse 4

Psalms 54:4. The Lord is with them that uphold my soul These words are capable of a double sense, each applicable to the context. Either "God is with them who uphold me, as their friend and helper, to assist and prosper them;" or, "God is amongst them; he is one of the number of those who support me, and will preserve me in safety."

Verse 5

Psalms 54:5. He shall reward evil unto mine enemies לשׁררי leshoreri, to them who, with a hostile mind, watch and observe me. This was the conduct of the Ziphites to David: they acted as Saul's spies, and watched David, to betray him to destruction. See 1 Samuel 23:23. The next clause should be rendered in the future, conformable to this.

Verse 6

Psalms 54:6. I will freely sacrifice, &c.— I will sacrifice to thee voluntary oblations. I will acknowledge thy name, for this is good. Chandler. See Exodus 35:29.

Verse 7

Psalms 54:7. He hath delivered me out of all trouble From every strait. In Psa 92:11 we have a similar expression to the last clause of this verse, mine eye hath seen, &c. where the words his desire, are supplied by our translators, and are not in the original. As the sentence, Mine eye hath seen upon mine enemies, seems imperfect, it has been variously filled up. Bishop Hare adds, quod volui: mine eye hath seen what I would, or wished, &c. Le Clerc, fine metu, without any fear of them; not to mention any other: but I apprehend there is no need of any supplement, and that though the sentence is not quite complete, yet any addition would take from the spirit of it. It is a sort of triumph over his enemies: Mine eye looked upon them; as we render the words, Genesis 29:32. "They came near enough to be seen by me, and that was all. God kept them from coming near me, so that they all have been disappointed of their prey." This was the very case with David, when Saul encompassed him with his troops, and, by an unexpected call, was obliged to retreat. Or the words may be rendered, mine eyes saw mine enemies: "Saw them with pleasure at a distance, and enjoyed the sight; especially when they marched off, and left me to escape." See Chandler, and Psalms 64:8.; Ecclesiastes 2:1.; Isaiah 66:5. Dr. Delaney renders it, God hath snatched me out of every strait, and on mine enemies hath mine eye seen; or, as the Arabic explains it, rested. God hath delivered him out of all his straits, (for, doubtless, it was a distressful dilemma to be forced either to die tamely, or fight his sovereign and his own people,) and he could now calmly and confidently survey those enemies whom before he did not dare to look in the face. The prayers of great men in distress, and their thanksgivings after great deliverances, have always been matter of uncommon delight to curiosity, and men of serious and religious spirits. Nor does the glory of any great man ever shine out to their eyes in half the lustre, as when they behold him upon his knees, lifting up his eyes, or stretching out his hands, to heaven; or, what is yet greater, prostrating himself before it, in humiliation and acknowledgment. Then is the hero seen in all his dignity! and in this light it must be owned that Henry the Fourth of France, before the battle of Yvry, and Henry the Fifth of England, after that of Agincourt, and David after this deliverance, appear with a grandeur very superior to that of either a Caesar or an Alexander. The latter, in their height of glory, were but mere rulers of men, but the former, upon their knees, the dependants and the friends of God.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, It is a comfort to a child of God, that, whatever he meets with from man, he has a friend to fly to, who will yield him full relief. We have here,

1. David's prayer for help and strength. Save me, O God, by thy name; by thy power and wisdom, which can frustrate the devices of my perfidious foes; or, for thy name's sake, to manifest thy glory in protecting the poor destitute that flies to thee for succour; and judge me by thy strength: strongly interpose in my behalf; and, as my cause is just, be thou my judge, O Lord, and avenge me of mine enemies. Note; (1.) Prayer is a sovereign medicine for every distress. (2.) Salvation cometh from God, and he never faileth those who seek him.

2. He complains of his persecutors. Strangers are risen up against me: though they were of his own tribe, and professors of the same religion, yet they acted worse than Philistines; and oppressors, or the mighty men, Saul, Doeg, and the Ziphites, seek after my soul: nothing but his life would gratify their blood-thirsty malice: they have not set God before them; pay no regard to his appointment, forget his all-seeing eye, and disregard the threatenings of his word. Note; (1.) The bitterest enemies of a child of God, are often his nearest neighbours and relations. (2.) When men leave God out of their sight, there is no wickedness too great for them. (3.) Though our spiritual foes seek with more inveterate malice after our souls, than these Ziphites after David, God will not leave us in their hands, if we cleave to him.

2nd, Having commended his cause in prayer to God, we have,
1. The lively profession of his confidence in God. Behold, take notice of it, ye children of God, for your encouragement; be admonished, ye sons of wickedness, before it be too late; God is my helper against every foe, therefore will I not faint or fear: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul; he is my upholder, and the friend of my friends, approving and supporting them in their adherence to me. Note; (1.) They who are faithful to God, shall find that he will raise them up friends in the worst of times. (2.) They who espouse the cause of injured innocence, shall be supported by the God of truth.

2. God's gracious help he promises thankfully to remember. I will freely sacrifice unto thee, not only the free-will offerings of bullocks, but the more pleasing oblation of the calves of the lips. I will praise thy name, for it is good; gracious, and worthy to be praised; and most becoming him would it be, who had experienced God's goodness, to shew it forth continually.

3. He looks upon his petitions as already accomplished, since faith is in exercise. He hath delivered me out of all my trouble, and mine eye hath seen his desire upon mine enemies; humbled, and disabled from hurting him.

Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 54". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/psalms-54.html. 1801-1803.
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