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Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible
Psalms 144



Verse 1



The matter of this Psalm is partly gratulatory for mercies received, and partly petitionary for further blessings. It seems to have been composed after Saul’s death, and in the beginning of David’s reign, when he was exposed to many perils, both from his own rebellions subjects, and from the Philistines and other foreign enemies, yet so that lie had a good prospect and assurance of a more complete and established felicity.

David, blesseth God for his mercy to him in his wars and government, confesseth his own and man’s nothingness, Psalms 144:1-4; prayeth that he would deliver him from his powerful enemies, Psalms 144:5-8, and promiseth to praise him, Psalms 144:9-11. The happiness of that kingdom whose God is the Lord, Psalms 144:12-15.

Who has given me that skill in military conduct, and that dexterity in the management of my weapons, which was wholly unsuitable to and much above my education and former course of life.

Verse 2

My goodness; or, my mercy; or, the God of my mercy, as God is called, Psalms 59:10,17; the name of God being easily understood from the foregoing verse. Or, he who is exceeding good or merciful to me, as good as goodness itself; the abstract being put for the concrete, as it is frequently in speeches of God, who is called wisdom, truth, goodness, &c.; and, sometimes of men, as Psalms 12:1 Proverbs 10:29, where faithfulness and uprightness are put for faithful and upright men.

Who subdueth my people under me; who has disposed my people’s hearts to receive and obey me as their king.

Verse 3

Lord, what is man he aggravates God’s goodness to him, expressed Psalms 144:2, by the consideration of his own meanness. Though I am king over my people, yet, alas, I am but a man. a base, sinful, mortal, and miserable creature; if compared with thee, less than nothing and vanity.

Takest knowledge of him, i.e. hast any care and kindness for him, as words of knowledge commonly imply in Scripture.

Makest account of him; the same thing repeated in other words.

Verse 4

Man is like, in his nature and continuance in the world,

to vanity, or to a vapour or a breath, as Isaiah 57:13, which is gone in an instant.

That passeth away; or, that declineth, as Psalms 102:11 109:23; that groweth less and less, till it be quite out of sight, and lost.

Verse 5

Come down, to help me, before it be too late, remembering what a frail and perishing creature I am.

And they shall smoke; or, that they may smoke; or, and let them smoke, as Sinai did at thy glorious appearance, Exodus 19:18. This is a figurative and poetical description of God’s coming to take vengeance upon his enemies, which is continued in the next verse.

Verse 6

Thy thunderbolts, which oft accompany the lightnings and thunder.

Verse 7

Either of the heathen nations, which envy and hate me; or of the rebellious Israelites, who, though they profess themselves to be the Lord’s people, yet in truth and for their carriage to me are like the barbarous heathens.

Verse 8

Vanity; either,

1. Vain brags and threatenings, which shall come to nothing; or,

2. Vain and deceitful promises, or professions, or friendship. Their right hand; here mentioned either,

1. As it is used in swearing, to note their perjury; or rather,

2. As an instrument of action. Is a right hand of falsehood; deceiving either,

1. Themselves, by being unable to do what they designed; or,

2. Others, by not giving them that help which they promised to them.

Verse 9

When thou hast granted this request of mine, Psalms 144:7,8, which I know assuredly thou wilt do.

Verse 10

Kings are not preserved by their own power or prudence, but by God’s special providence, which for the public good of the world watcheth over them.

Verse 11

And upon these accounts grant me the mercy which I desired before, and now again do repeat.

Verse 12

This mercy I beg, not only for my own sake, but for the sake of thy people, that thine and our enemies being subdued, and peace established in the land, thy people may enjoy those blessings which thou hast promised to them; and particularly,

that our sons, which are the strength, and safety, and hopes of a nation, may be like plants, flourishing and thriving, and growing in height and strength, as plants do in their youth, and they only; for when they grow old, they wither and decay.

Our daughters; upon whom the hope of posterity depends.

As corner-stones, polished after the similitude of palace; strong and beautiful, and adorned with all the ornaments belonging to their sex.

Verse 13

So as they may fill our streets, being brought in thither for food to the towns and cities. Or, in our folds or stables, as the Chaldee and others render it; or, as the LXX. and others, in their (or rather, in our, as it is in the Hebrew) outlets or outgoings, i.e. in the fields, where they abide.

Verse 14

To labour, Heb. laden, either with flesh and fat, as many understand it; or, as others, with young: but then the foregoing word is not to be rendered

oxen, but cows, as the same word and in the same masculine gender is used Deuteronomy 7:13. And so this agrees best with the former prayer for the sheep, Psalms 144:13, and he wisheth the same blessing of fruitfulness both for greater and smaller cattle.

No breaking in, to wit, of enemies invading the land, or assaulting our cities, and making breaches in their walls.

Nor going out, to wit, of our people; either out of the towns and cities, to fight with an invading enemy; or out of the land into captivity.

No complaining; or, no outcry, or howling, for any sad tidings, or public grievances or calamities.

Verse 15

This is a correction of the last sentence. This is a very desirable estate; but the true and chief happiness of our Israel doth not consist in these things, which are common to others with us, but in this peculiar privilege, that the true and blessed God is our God by covenant and special relation.


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

Bibliography Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 144:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, December 10th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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