Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 144


A Psalm of David.

The occasion of this psalm is the defeat of Absalom. It has been, by a few writers, supposed to be the victory over Goliath, as is certainly suggested by “the hurtful sword,” “strange children whose mouth speaketh vanity,” and some other phrases. Other writers have placed this psalm among the victories after the captivity. It is, however, seen to be the language of one who is already a king, and has received a king’s “salvation” in victory over the enemies of his kingdom, and deliverance from their hurtful sword. Absalom was peculiarly a “strange” child, of a heathen mother, and moulded after his grandfather, with whom he had spent much time, rather than after his father. Specially is it to be noticed that the element of remorse and self-abasement, noticed in Psalms 144:3-4, comports with David’s feelings in the matter of Absalom. It is thought that the psalm originally ended with Psalms 144:11. There is no necessary connexion of the following verses with the preceding, but they fit this psalm as well as any other.

Verse 1

1.My strength—Hebrew, My rock, but clearly in a broad and figurative sense.


Verse 2

2.My goodness—Meaning, “the source from which goodness, or mercy, comes to me.”

Who subdueth—Refers to the restoration of David’s authority after the suppression of Absalom’s rebellion.


Verse 3-4

3, 4.Man is like to vanity—The wickedness and weakness of man are in several psalms set forth in this beautiful and impressive language.


Verse 5

5.Bow’ come down—This appeal shows that Davidbadly as he has donefeels himself to be the rightful king of Israel. He, as such, may claim the help of Jehovah. The language is as if the deliverance from Egypt were in the writer’s mind, when the Lord looked out in flames upon Pharaoh and his host, but brought his people out of the great waters of the Red Sea.


Verses 7-9

7-9.Strange children—That is, “unnatural, rebellious children.” David, in utter violation of Hebrew law, married Maachah, daughter of Talmai, a heathen ruler north east of Palestine. Her children, Absalom and Tamar, of remarkable beauty, were a source of serious trouble to David. Absalom’s mouth spoke vanity, and his right hand was a right hand of falsehood. David, as a father, mourned, but as a ruler, welcomed, his death, and for the relief it brought, he sang a new song unto God.


Verse 12

12.Grown up—That is, becoming strong, refers to our sons in an early and vigorous development. So polished refers to daughters. It is better rendered carved. To this day the corners of houses in Damascus may be seen carved in beautiful style, showing the figures here used to mean gracefulness of form and richness of attire.


Verse 14

14.Breaking in, is in Hebrew only “breaking,” and refers to damage or painful casualty; while going out is loss or failure. These verses follow beautifully Psalms 144:11, and continue its prayer; portraying in few words a copious prosperity, such as a king might wish for his people.


Verse 15

15.Happy is that people—A climax is here given. “Happy” is the people that has such material prosperity, but happier still is the people among whom the true God is known. Every good gift is indeed from him, and they with whom he dwells have the sure fountain of good. Also, tobe the chosen people of the Lord was the crown of the blessings of Israel.


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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 144". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.