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Bible Commentaries

Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament
Psalms 86

 

 

Introduction

Prayer of a Persecuted Saint

A Psalm “by David” which has points of contact with Psalms 85:1-13 (cf. Psalms 86:2, חסיד , with Psalms 85:9; Psalms 86:15, חסד ואמת , with Psalms 85:11) is here inserted between Korahitic Psalms: it can only be called a Psalm by David as having grown out of Davidic and other model passages. The writer cannot be compared for poetical capability either with David or with the authors of such Psalms as Ps 116 and Psalms 130:1-8. His Psalm is more liturgic than purely poetic, and it is also only entitled תּפּלּה , without bearing in itself any sign of musical designation. It possesses this characteristic, that the divine name אדני occurs seven times,

(Note: For the genuine reading in Psalms 86:4 (where Heidenheim reads יהוה ) and in Psalms 86:5 (where Nissel reads יהוה ) is also אדני (Bomberg, Hutter, etc.). Both the divine names in Psalms 86:4 and Psalms 86:5 belong to the 134 ודּאין . The divine name אדני , which is written and is not merely substituted for יהוה , is called in the language of the Masora ודאי (the true and real one).)

just as it occurs three times in Psalms 130:1-8, forming the start for a later, Adonajic style in imitation of the Elohimic.


Verses 1-5

The prayer to be heard runs like Psalms 55:3; and the statement of the ground on which it is based, Psalms 86:1 , word for word like Ps 40:18. It is then particularly expressed as a prayer for preservation ( שׁמרה , as in Psalms 119:167, although imperative, to be read shāmerah ; cf. Psalms 30:4 מיּרדי , Psalms 38:21 רדפי or רדפי , and what we have already observed on Psalms 16:1 שׁמרני ); for he is not only in need of God's help, but also because חסיד (Psalms 4:4; Psalms 16:10), i.e., united to Him in the bond of affection ( חסד , Hosea 6:4; Jeremiah 2:2), not unworthy of it. In Psalms 86:2 we hear the strains of Psalms 25:20; Psalms 31:7; in Psalms 86:3, of Psalms 57:2.: the confirmation in Psalms 86:4 is taken verbally from Psalms 25:1, cf. also Psalms 130:6. Here, what is said in Psalms 86:4 of this shorter Adonajic Psalm, Psalms 130:1-8, is abbreviated in the ἅπαξ γεγραμ . סלּח (root סל , של , to allow to hang loose, χαλᾶν , to give up, remittere ). The Lord is good ( טּוב ), i.e., altogether love, and for this very reason also ready to forgive, and great and rich in mercy for all who call upon Him as such. The beginning of the following group also accords with Psalms 130:1-8 in Psalms 86:2.


Verses 6-13

Here, too, almost everything is an echo of earlier language of the Psalms and of the Law; viz., Psalms 86:7 follows Psalms 17:6 and other passages; Psalms 86:8 is taken from Exodus 15:11, cf. Psalms 89:9, where, however, אלהים , gods, is avoided; Psalms 86:8 follows Deuteronomy 3:24; Psalms 86:9 follows Psalms 22:28; Psalms 86:11 is taken from Psalms 27:11; Psalms 86:11 from Psalms 26:3; Psalms 86:13, שׁאול תּחתּיּה from Deuteronomy 32:22, where instead of this it is תּחתּית , just as in Psalms 130:2 תּחנוּני (supplicatory prayer) instead of תּחנוּנותי (importunate supplications); and also Psalms 86:10 (cf. Psalms 72:18) is a doxological formula that was already in existence. The construction הקשׁיב בּ is the same as in Psalms 66:19. But although for the most part flowing on only in the language of prayer borrowed from earlier periods, this Psalm is, moreover, not without remarkable significance and beauty. With the confession of the incomparableness of the Lord is combined the prospect of the recognition of the incomparable One throughout the nations of the earth. This clear unallegorical prediction of the conversion of the heathen is the principal parallel to Revelation 15:4. “All nations, which Thou hast made” - they have their being from Thee; and although they have forgotten it (vid., Psalms 9:18), they will nevertheless at last come to recognise it. כּל־גּוים , since the article is wanting, are nations of all tribes (countries and nationalities); cf. Jeremiah 16:16 with Psalms 22:18; Tobit 13:11, ἔθνη πολλά , with ibid . Psalms 14:6, πάντα τὰ ἔθνη . And how weightily brief and charming is the petition in Psalms 86:11 : uni cor meum, ut timeat nomen tuum ! Luther has rightly departed from the renderings of the lxx, Syriac, and Vulgate: laetetur ( יחדּ from חדה ). The meaning, however, is not so much “keep my heart near to the only thing,” as “direct all its powers and concentrate them on the one thing.” The following group shows us what is the meaning of the deliverance out of the hell beneath ( שׁאול תּחתּיּה , like ארץ תּחתּית , the earth beneath, the inner parts of the earth, Ezekiel 31:14.), for which the poet promises beforehand to manifest his thankfulness ( כּי , Psalms 86:13, as in Ps 56:14).


Verses 14-17

The situation is like that in the Psalms of the time of Saul. The writer is a persecuted one, and in constant peril of his life. He has taken Psalms 86:14 out of the Elohimic Psalms 54:5, and retained the Elohim as a proper name of God (cf. on the other hand Psalms 86:8, Psalms 86:10); he has, however, altered זרים to זרים , which here, as in Isaiah 13:11 (cf. however, ibid . Psalms 25:5), is the alternating word to עריצים . In Psalms 86:15 he supports his petition that follows by Jahve's testimony concerning Himself in Exodus 34:6. The appellation given to himself by the poet in Psalms 86:16 recurs in Psalms 116:16 (cf. Wisd. 9:5). The poet calls himself “the son of Thy handmaid” as having been born into the relation to Him of servant; it is a relationship that has come to him by birth. How beautifully does the Adonaj come in here for the seventh time! He is even from his mother's womb the servant of the sovereign Lord, from whose omnipotence he can therefore also look for a miraculous interposition on his behalf. A “token for good” is a special dispensation, from which it becomes evident to him that God is kindly disposed towards him. לטובה as in the mouth of Nehemiah, Nehemiah 5:19; Nehemiah 13:31; of Ezra 8:22; and also even in Jeremiah and earlier. ויבשׁוּ is just as parenthetical as in Isaiah 26:11.

 


Copyright Statement
The Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.

Bibliography Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Psalms 86:4". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/psalms-86.html. 1854-1889.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, December 12th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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