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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Psalms 31

 

 

Verses 1-3

Psalms 31:1-3. Never let me be ashamed — Namely, of my confidence in thy promises. Deliver me in thy righteousness — By, or for, or according to thy faithfulness and goodness, both which often come under the name of righteousness. Deliver me speedily — Because of the greatness and urgency of my danger, which is even ready to swallow me up. For thy name’s sake lead me — For the glory of thy name, that is, of thy power, and truth, and mercy to thy miserable servant. And guide me — Lead and guide are two words expressing the same thing with more emphasis. Direct me clearly and continually in a right and safe path: for, without thy conduct, I can neither discern the right way nor continue in it.


Verse 5

Psalms 31:5. Into thy hand — That is, to thy care and custody; I commit my spirit — My soul or life, either to preserve it from the malice of mine enemies, or, if they are permitted to kill my body, to receive it. For my case is almost desperate, and I am ready to give up the ghost. But our Lord used those words, when expiring on the cross, in a more proper and literal sense than they can be applied to David. He used them, probably, to convince the Jews that, though suffering, he was the Messiah, and that son of David who should sit on his throne for ever. For thou hast redeemed me Thou hast delivered me formerly in great dangers, and therefore I willingly and cheerfully commit myself to thee for the future: O Lord God of truth — Who hast showed thyself to be such to me in making good thy promises.


Verse 6

Psalms 31:6. I have hated them — Not the persons, but the ways of them, that regard — Hebrew, השׁמרים, hashomerim, that observe; that is, are attached to, depend upon, or expect help from, lying vanities, הבלי שׁוא, hablee shave, vanities of emptiness, or, most vain vanities, such as are foolish, deceitful, and fruitless. By which he means either, 1st, All human and carnal helps and dependances; or any and every arm of flesh, in which those that trust are pronounced accursed, Jeremiah 17:5 : or, 2d, idols, which are often called vanities, as Deuteronomy 32:21 : or, 3d, curious arts, and all sorts of divinations, whether by the stars, or by the entrails of living creatures, or by the dead, &c., which practices were common and prevalent among the eastern people, and through their example were also practised by many of the Israelites.


Verse 7-8

Psalms 31:7-8. Thou hast known my soul in adversities — Hast not stood aloof from me, and acted toward me as a stranger, but hast loved me, and cared for me. For knowledge often implies affection. And hast not shut me up — Or, suffered me to be shut up; into the hand — Or power; of the enemy — Of which I was in great and imminent danger, if thou hadst not delivered me. Thou hast set my foot in a large room — Made way for me to escape when I was encompassed by them, and set me at liberty.


Verse 9-10

Psalms 31:9-10. Mine eye is consumed with grief — With continual weeping; yea, my soul — My sorrows are not counterfeit, or slight, but inward and penetrating: my mind is oppressed, my heart is ready to sink under my burden; and my belly — So the word בשׂני, bitai, signifies: but it evidently means here the whole body, especially the stomach and bowels, which were particularly affected by his trouble and grief. My life is spent — The time of my life, as the next clause explains it; with grief and my years with sighing — I cannot subsist long, except thou relievest me. My strength faileth — I am wasted away with sorrow; because of mine iniquity — Either, 1st, Through my deep and just sense of my sins, which have provoked God to afflict me in this manner; or, 2d, For the punishment of mine iniquity. And my bones are consumed — The juice and marrow of them being almost dried up with excessive grief.


Verse 11

Psalms 31:11. I was a reproach among all mine enemies — That is, the subject of their reproaches and scoffs. “This,” said they, “is David, anointed to be king of Israel, a goodly monarch indeed! forsaken by God and men, and in a desperate and perishing condition. He pretends great piety to God, and loyalty to Saul; but, in truth, he is a great impostor, and a traitor and rebel to his king.” But especially among my neighbours — Though they have been witnesses of my integrity in all my actions. And a fear to mine acquaintance — Hebrew, פחד, pachad, a terror. They were afraid to give me any countenance or assistance, or to be seen in my company. They that did see me without — That met me in the highway; fled from me — To prevent their own danger and ruin, which might have been occasioned by their appearing to have any acquaintance with, or friendship for me.


Verse 12-13

Psalms 31:12-13. I am forgotten, &c. — Whatsoever good service I have done to the king or kingdom, or to any particular persons, which they have sometimes acknowledged and highly commended, is now quite forgotten by them all: or at least they behave toward me as if it were so. As a dead man out of mind — Whose name and memory are quite lost within a few days. I am like a broken vessel — Made of earth, which is irreparable and useless, and therefore despised by all. For I have heard — With my own ears, or learned by information from others, the slander of many — Who reproach and defame me, as a turbulent and seditious person, an enemy to the public peace, and a conspirator against the king’s life, or dignity. Fear was on every side — Just cause for fear, even of the loss of my life; while they took counsel together against me — בהוסדם יחד, behiv-vasedam jachad, in their assembling together, and holding consultations; they devised, or plotted to take away my life — Namely, unjustly and violently. This and the preceding verses are plainly applicable to the Lord Jesus, and to the life of sorrow and reproach which he led among men.


Verses 14-17

Psalms 31:14-17. I said, Thou art my God — Mine by paternal relation, and care, and affection, and by thy promise, or covenant, made with me. My times are in thy hand — The time of my life, how long I shall live; or, all the affairs and events of my life are wholly in thy power, to dispose and order as thou seest fit; and not at all in the power of mine enemies, who can do nothing against me, unless it be given them from above. They can no more dispose of my life at their pleasure than I can appoint the time of my deliverance. This I leave to thy wisdom, O Lord, to whom it belongs. Make thy face to shine upon thy servant — Manifest thy love and favour to me, by answering my prayers and delivering me from mine enemies. For I have called upon thee — And therefore thy honour will be eclipsed in my disappointment, and it will seem as though thou didst not hear prayer, nor keep thy promises, nor make any difference between the righteous and the wicked. Let the wicked be ashamed — Frustrated in their wicked designs and carnal confidences. Let them be silent in the grave — Seeing they are implacable in their malice against innocent and good men, do thou cut them off by thy just judgment; and since either the righteous or the wicked must be cut off, let destruction fall upon them who most deserve it.


Verse 18

Psalms 31:18. Let the lying lips — The slanderous tongues; be put to silence — Either by thy discovery and vindication of my integrity; or by some imminent judgment, which may either convince them, or take them off. Which speak grievous things — Hebrews עתק, gnatak, what is hard, or hard things, the singular number being put for the plural; he means such things as were grievous and hard to be borne, such as bitter calumnies, cruel mockings, terrible threatenings, and the like. Proudly and contemptuously — With great arrogance, and confidence of success, and contempt of me and my friends, whom they look upon as few in number, and impotent fugitives, and such as they can blow away with their breath; against the righteous — Against us, whom thou knowest to be righteous, notwithstanding all their false accusations, and therefore for thy love of righteousness save us, and silence our unjust enemies.


Verse 19

Psalms 31:19. O, how great is thy goodness — No words can express the greatness of thy love and blessings; which thou hast laid up — Hebrew, צפנת, tzapanta, hast hid, namely, with thyself, or in thy own breast. The word is very emphatical, and removes an objection of ungodly men taken from the present calamities of good men. His favour, it is true, is not always manifested to them, but it is laid up for them in his treasure, whence it shall be drawn forth when they need it, and he sees it fit. Which thou hast wrought — Or hast prepared, or wilt prepare, the past time being put for the future, to signify the certainty of it, as is very common in the prophetical writings; before the sons of men — Publicly, and in the view of the world, their very enemies seeing, admiring, and envying it, but not being able to hinder it.


Verse 20

Psalms 31:20. Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence — Or, as in the secret of thy presence: either, 1st, As if they were in thy presence- chamber, where thine own eye and hand guard them from all the assaults of their enemies; called his secret, partly because the greatest part of the world are strangers to God and his presence: and partly because it is a safe and secure place, such as secret and unknown places are. Or, 2d, As if they were in the secret of God’s tabernacle, as it is called, Psalms 27:5, the place of God’s special presence, where none might enter save the high- priest. Or, 3d, With thy secret favour and providence, which works mightily, yet secretly, for thy people, and saves them by hidden and unknown methods. From the pride of man — From their vain-glorious boasting and threats, and from their bold and insolent attempts. In a pavilion — Or, as in thy pavilion, or tabernacle. From the strife of tongues — From contentious and slandering tongues.


Verse 21-22

Psalms 31:21-22. He hath showed me marvellous kindness in a strong city —

Namely, in Keilah, where God had wonderfully preserved him; of which see 1 Samuel 23:7. Or, as in a strong city. He hath kept me as safe in woods and caves as if I had been in a fenced city. I said in my haste — In my hasty flight from Saul, when he and his men had almost encompassed me, 1 Samuel 23:26. This happened presently after his deliverance in and from the strong city of Keilah. Or the Hebrew, בחפזי, bechaphzi, may be rendered, in my fear, or trembling, when my passion took away my consideration, and weakened my faith. I am cut off from before thine eyes — That is, cast out of thy sight, and out of the care of thy gracious providence; my case is desperate: or cut off while thou lookest on, and dost not pity nor help me. Nevertheless, thou heardest, &c. — My fears were quickly confuted by thy gracious answer to my prayers.


Verse 23

Psalms 31:23. O love the Lord, all ye his saints — Those that have their own hearts full of love to God, cannot but desire that others also should love him: for in his love there is no need to fear a rival. It is the character of all the saints, that they love God; and yet they must still be called upon to love him; to love him more, and to give better proofs of their love. For the Lord preserveth the faithful — Who receive and walk in the truth, who are steady and constant in their attachment to God and his cause, and are faithful to every trust reposed in them by God and man. They are opposed to the proud doer mentioned in the next clause. The words, however, נצר

אמונים, may be rendered, who keepeth faithfulness, or faithfulnesses, that is, is faithful in fulfilling his promises; and plentifully rewardeth — Hebrew, על יתר, gnal jether, rewardeth with abundance, the proud doer The enemies and persecutors of God’s faithful ones, before mentioned, are here intended. These he terms proud doers, because of their rebellion against God’s will, and their contempt of his threatenings and judgments, and their most insolent and contemptuous conduct toward his people; all which proceeded from the pride of their hearts, Psalms 10:4.


Verse 24

Psalms 31:24. Be of good courage — Or, be strong, namely, in the Lord, and through confidence in his promises, which will not fail you, as I have found by experience. And he shall strengthen your heart — The God you put your trust in, will, by that trust, impart fortitude and strength to you; all ye that hope in the Lord — That rely on him for grace and glory, and the supply of all your wants. They that hope in the Lord have reason to be of good courage, and to be strengthened; for as nothing truly evil can befall them, so nothing truly good for them shall be withheld from them.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 31:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/psalms-31.html. 1857.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, August 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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