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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Psalms 31



Verse 1

In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness.

Psalms 31:1-24.-Prayer for deliverance, on the plea of Yahweh's righteousness (Psalms 31:1); David's confidence because of Yahweh's character toward His people (Psalms 31:2-8); his distress (Psalms 31:9-13); his bringing it before God (Psalms 31:14-18); assurance of Yahweh's saving goodness to His people (Psalms 31:19-21). Concluding summary: his experience of God applied to the saints, that they, too, may love the Lord, as the Saviour of believers and the Punisher of the proud (Psalms 31:22-24). Jeremiah 20:10 quotes Psalms 31:13; Christ, on the cross (Luke 23:46), quoted Psalms 31:5. He is the antitypical David.

In thee ... trust - one ground on which he rests his prayer.

Let me. ... - his trust in Yahweh. Thy righteousness - a second plea for being heard, 'the righteousness of God,' which makes it impossible that the righteous can perish, and the unrighteous finally prosper.

Verse 2

Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me.

The first strophe. The Psalmist's prayer, with confidence of being heard because of the Lord's character toward His trusting people.

Bow down ... - as a majestic Father stooping down His ear for His little child to speak into it all his fears and needs. This verse contains the prayer, Psalms 31:3 its basis.

Strong rock ... house of defense ... - literally, 'a rock of strength ... an house of munitions,' or 'mountain-tops' ( m

Verse 3-4

For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name's sake lead me, and guide me.

Thy name sake ... - or (as the Septuagint, Vulgate, and Arabic), continuing the ground on which the prayer (Psalms 31:2) rests, translate, 'And for thy name's sake (for the sake of thy manifested attributes-for instance, thy righteousness, Psalms 31:1; Psalms 23:3), thou wilt lead me and guide me, thou wilt pull me out of the net.' The Chaldaic and Syriac support the English version.

Verse 5

Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.

Into ... - Christ's dying words (Luke 23:46).

Redeemed. In its application to the Saviour, the expression "redeemed" refers to the Father's having delivered the Son from Satan, death, and the grave, in Christ's resurrection. In its application to David, the type, it implies his assurance of deliverance is so strong that he speaks of it as already accomplished. In its application to believers in general, the word bears the strict sense 'ransom' [ paadah (Hebrew #6299)], or deliver by paying a price (1 Peter 1:18). God's character as the "God of truth," faithful to His revealed promise to save His believing people, is the guarantee for the everlasting security of them who commit their spirit to Him (cf. 1 Peter 4:19).

Verse 6

I have hated them that regard lying vanities: but I trust in the LORD.

Lying vanities - the idols, literal or spiritual, in which the worldly trust, and which prove lying vanities, disappointing the hopes of their votaries (Jonah 2:8).

But I trust - "in the Lord," who is the "God of truth" (Psalms 31:5), keeping all His promise. "I" in the Hebrew is emphatic. However others may observe, lying vanities, 'I, for my part, trust in Yahweh.' The Septuagint, Vulgate, Syriac, and Arabic read, 'Thou hatest lying vanities.' But the English version reading suits better the contrast between the first and second clauses of this verse. So the Chaldaic reads. Compare also Psalms 16:4; Psalms 31:4-5. As 'idols' of every kind are things of vanity or no-nothingness [ hebel (Hebrew #1892)], so 'Yahweh' (meaning in Hebrew, real essential being-the great "I AM") is pure and self-derived entity and truth (cf. Deuteronomy 32:21). "Lying vanities" form the antithesis to the "God of truth," Psalms 31:5.

Verse 7

I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities;

I will ... rejoice in thy mercy. With the eye of faith he SEES God already having regard to his "trouble," and therefore rejoices in God's mercy, as if it already had granted him deliverance.

Thou ... in adversities - i:e., thou hast known my soul in adversities in such a way as to save it out of them. So the Septuagint, Ethiopic, Vulgate, and Arabic. But the Chaldaic and Syriac translate, 'thou hast known the adversities of my soul;' literally, 'thou hast known in respect to' them. So the Hebrew [ yaada` (Hebrew #3045) + b

Verse 8

And hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy: thou hast set my feet in a large room. And hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy: thou hast set my feet in a large room.

Hast not shut me up (1 Samuel 23:12, margin) - an undesigned coincidence between the language of David here and in the independently written history.

A large room - (cf. Psalms 18:19)

Verse 9

Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly.

The second strophe. His distress, and his commission of it to the Lord in prayer.

I am in trouble - `I am in straits.'

Mine eye ... grief - `agitation' ( b

Verse 10

For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed.

For my life ... grief - (Jeremiah 20:18.)

My strength ... iniquity. The Psalmist's infirmities and occasional grievous transgressions, through neglect of watchfulness, brought on him chastisement from the Lord, executed by his enemies (Psalms 38:4). Though, in relation to the Lord, he felt that his sin justly incurred the punishment, yet, in relation to them whose whole course was estranged from God, he could justly claim God's interposition in his behalf, on the ground of God's righteousness, since the general tenor of his life was that of a sincere servant of God.

Bones ... consumed - i:e., lose their strength.

Verse 11

I was a reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbours, and a fear to mine acquaintance: they that did see me without fled from me.

A reproach among (Hebrew, min (Hebrew #4480), from, on the part of) all mine enemies. The reproach arose from mine enemies.

My neighbours. It is peculiarly painful when we are so utterly repudiated by general opinion that our very neighbours and friends, from whom we expect kindness and sympathy in our sorrow, join in the common cry against us.

And a fear to mine acquaintance. Such was Jesus' case at His crucifixion (Psalms 38:11; Luke 23:49).

They ... see me without fled - not only will none keep company with me under the same roof, but everyone flees from me, if I come near them 'in the streets.'

Verse 12

I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel.

forgotten ... out of mind. So Deuteronomy 31:21, "forgotten out of the months."

As ... dead - (Psalms 88:4-5; Ecclesiastes 9:5.)

A broken vessel - for which no one cares, since it can never be made whole again, therefore thrown away as worthless. Compare Romans 9:22; Psalms 2:9; Jeremiah 18:4; Jeremiah 48:38; Hosea 8:8.

Verse 13

For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side: while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life.

I have heard the slander ... - (Psalms 2:2.) From slander in words, they proceeded to persecution in acts. By reproaches they alienated public sympathy from him, thereby paving the way for impunity in their plot against his life.

Verse 14

But I trusted in thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my God.

Thou art my God - notwithstanding the "slander" of mine adversaries, that God has forsaken me (cf. Psalms 22:1; Psalms 22:8-10). 'There is nothing more difficult than, when we see our faith despised by the whole world, to direct our language to God alone, and to say with a clear conscience that He is our God' (Calvin).

Verse 15

My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.

My times ... thy hand. Compare on "my times," 1 Chronicles 29:30; Daniel 2:21. Christ, the great representative man, continually realized the sense of his times, with all their trials and their comforts, being absolutely at the disposal of God, who can, at His sovereign and all-wise will, in a moment change, joy into sorrow, or sorrow into joy. "Mine hour," He said, on one occasion, "is not yet come;" nor could His enemies touch Him until the hour appointed by the Father (John 2:4; John 7:6; John 7:8; John 7:30; John 8:20; cf. margin and text; 1 Kings 8:59).

Verse 16

Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: save me for thy mercies' sake.

Thy face ... shine ... servant - the Mosaic blessing (Numbers 6:25; cf. Psalms 4:6). The words "thy servant" imply an argument why God should hear his prayer; because God cannot but be gracious to His own servant.

Verse 17

Let me not be ashamed, O LORD for I have called upon thee: let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave.

Let me ... O Lord; for I have called upon thee - resuming the prayer (Psalms 31:1) in a reverse order of the clauses; the 'calling upon' Yahweh here is the outward expression of the "trust" there.

Let the wicked ... grave - Hebrew, Sh

Verse 18

Let the lying lips be put to silence; which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous.

Let the lying lips ... grievous things - or 'hard things,' as the Hebrew is translated, Psalms 94:4 [ `aataq (Hebrew #6275)]; properly, what is hardened by age: so here, reckless speeches flowing from hardened wantonness in lying.

Verse 19

Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!

The third division. The assurance of the Lord's goodness to His people.

Oh now great ... hast laid up - "laid up," as a treasure stored up long ago, and ready to be brought forth for the service of the Lord's people, according as the occasion shall require (Psalms 27:13; Psalms 36:7-8).

Wrought ... before the sons of men! The words, 'wrought (openly) before the sons of men,' stand in beautiful contrast to "thy goodness, which thou hast laid up" as a hidden hoard. The Hebrew accents forbid the connection, "them that trust in thee before the sons of men." Such a phrase never occurs, and is inappropriate; because it is only God who knows them that really trust in Him: it is not they, but He, who manifest, by special interpositions before all men, and who shall fully manifest at the final judgment who are His trusting people (2 Timothy 2:19). He will in due time make known, in the Frescoes of all men, alike friends and foes, how great is the goodness which He works for His people, (cf. 2 Chronicles 32:21-23; Dan. 3:26-23; 6 .)

Verse 20

Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.

Thou shalt hide ... pride of man - (Psalms 27:5; Psalms 32:7.) Gesenius translates, 'from the conspiracies of man' [ meerukceey (Hebrew #7407), from raakac (Hebrew #7405), to bind together]. Some of the rabbis (taking the Hebrew from the same root, 'to exalt one's self') translate as the English version: so Psalms 31:18, (a different Hebrew word), 'which speak proudly;' and again Psalms 31:23, which recapitulates what has gone before, "the proud doer," has the same Hebrew (Isaiah 40:4, "the rough places" - i:e., those rugged and high). As the Hebrew implies elation and knotted protuberances, we may combine the senses, 'from the proud conspiracies (the Hebrew is plural) of man,' answering to "the strife of tongues" in the parallel clause; and to Psalms 31:13, "they took counsel together against me ... to take away my life." "The slander of many," in the same verse, corresponds to "the strife of tongues" here.

Thou ... a pavilion - a spiritual pavilion, the favour and protection of Yahweh. The "pavilion" is explained by the parallel, "the secret of thy presence" (cf. Psalms 91:1). The Lord's people are His "hidden ones" (Psalms 83:3). None have access to an Eastern king's pavilion, in "the inner court," except those whom he pleases to admit (cf. Esther 4:11). Thus, to be kept secretly' in the pavilion of Yahweh, is equivalent to perfect security.

Strife of tongues - (Psalms 55:9; Psalms 55:21).

Verse 21

Blessed be the LORD: for he hath shewed me his marvellous kindness in a strong city.

Strong city. Yahweh Himself, with His almighty protection, is the "strong city" (Psalms 46:1; Psalms 46:11). Thus, this last verse of the third strophe corresponds to the first verse of the first strophe, Psalms 31:2 (cf. Jeremiah 18:1-23).

Verse 22

For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes: nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee.

The conclusion recapitulates David's experience, with a view to strengthen all the saints in faith and love.

For I said. Translate as not connected with Psalms 31:21, but as the conclusion of the whole psalm, 'I truly, for my part (so the Hebrew), had said.'

In my haste - in the agitated haste of despondency: so the Hebrew expresses (1 Samuel 23:26).

I am cut off ... - as one cut off from hope, and already in the grave, beyond the reach of God's delivering mercy.

Verse 23

O love the LORD, all ye his saints: for the LORD preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer.

O love ... saints. From God, David turns to his fellow-saints.

(For) the Lord preserveth the faithful. Yahweh's faithfulness to the faithful is the ground of their "love plentifully" - literally, super-abundantly.

Verse 24

Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.

Be of good courage ... hope in the Lord. The Hebrew, "hope" [ yaachal (Hebrew #3176)], expresses intent waiting for Him (Psalms 33:20; Isaiah 42:4 cf. Matthew 12:21, waiting trust, and expectation: Genesis 8:10). Man's part, "Be of good courage," and God's part, "He shall strengthen your heart," here meet in unison, as in Philippians 2:12-13.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 31:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 28th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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