As Kidner points out, this psalm twice makes the journey from anguish to assurance (1-8; 9-24).
1 For the director of music. A psalm of David. In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.
Deliver me in your righteousness – David’s appeal is to God’s concern to see justice done.
2 Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.
Although his enemies have laid a trap (v4), his God is a rock and a fortress.
3 Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
God is a rock, a fortress, and a cliff (v3 lit. translation): ‘a strong place to stand, a secure place to enter and an inaccessible place to occupy.’ (NBC)
4 Free me from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.
5 Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth.
Our Lord quoted the first part of this verse. Although it may be significant that he did not pray the second part, which pleads for ‘redemption’, that word in the OT does not usually refer to atonement, but rather to rescue in a more general sense (Kidner).
6 I hate those who cling to worthless idols; I trust in the LORD.
7 I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.
8 You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place.
9 Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief.
I am in distress – Kidner refers to the ‘deepening demoralisation’ expressed in vv9-13, from gloom to hopelessness and terror. This shows ‘how murderous is the impact of hatred, especially when it takes the form of rejection.’
10 My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak.
My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning – ‘We may guess by David’s complexion, which was ruddy and sanguine, by his genius for music, and by his daring enterprises in his early days, that his natural disposition was both cheerful and firm, that he was apt to be cheerful, and not to lay trouble to his heart; yet here we see what he is brought to: he has almost wept out his eyes, and sighed away his breath. Let those that are airy and gay take heed of running into extremes, and never set sorrow at defiance; God can find out ways to make them melancholy if they will not otherwise learn to be serious.’ (MHC)
Affliction – NIV mg has ‘guilt’; RSV mg has ‘iniquity’.
11 Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbours; I am a dread to my friends—those who see me on the street flee from me.
12 I am forgotten by them as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery.
13 For I hear the slander of many; there is terror on every side; they conspire against me and plot to take my life.
14 But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.”
“You are my God” – ‘I have chosen thee for mine, and thou hast promised to be mine;’ ’ and, if he be ours and we can by faith call him so, it is enough, when we can call nothing else ours. “Thou art my God; and therefore to whom shall I go for relief but to thee?’ ’ Those need not be straitened in their prayers who can plead this; for, if God undertake to be our God, he will do that for us which will answer the compass and vast extent of the engagement.’ (MHC)
15 My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me.
My times are in your hands – The idea of ‘times’ reminds us that change occurs both in ourselves and our circumstances. But ‘change is not chance’ (Kidner), because ‘my times are in [God’s hands]’.
‘The import of the language is, Lord it is thy prerogative, and thou alone hast the power to dispose of both my life and death. Nor does he use the plural, times, in my opinion without reason; but rather th makr the variety of casualties, bu which the life of man is usually harassed.’ (Calvin)
‘The whole of life, with all that threatens it, with all that continues it, is in the hand of the wise, good, powerful, perfect ruler of all things.’ (Plumer)
‘If God have our times in his hand, he can help us; and, if he be our God, he will help us; and then what can discourage us? It is a great support to those who have God for their God that their times are in his hand and he will be sure to order and dispose of them for the best, to all those who commit their spirits also into his hand, to suit them to their times, as David here, v. 5. The time of life is in God’s hands, to lengthen or shorten, embitter or sweeten, as he pleases, according to the counsel of his will. Our times (all events that concern us, and the timing of them) are at God’s disposal; they are not in our own hands, for the way of man is not in himself, not in our friends’ hands, nor in our enemies’ hands, but in God’s; every man’s judgment proceedeth from him. David does not, in his prayers, prescribe to God, but subscribe to him. “Lord, my times are in thy hand, and I am well pleased that they are so; they could not be in a better hand. Thy will be done.’ ’ (MHC)
16 Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.
17 Let me not be put to shame, O LORD, for I have cried out to you; but let the wicked be put to shame and lie silent in the grave.
Let the wicked be put to shame and lie silent in the grave (Heb. sheol) – ‘Death will silence the rage and clamour of cruel persecutors, whom reason would not silence. In the grave the wicked cease from troubling.’ (MHC)
18 Let their lying lips be silenced, for with pride and contempt they speak arrogantly against the righteous.
19 How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of men on those who take refuge in you.
How great (abundant, RSV) is your goodness – ‘The catalog of evidences includes God’s righteousness, steadfast love, compassion, faithfulness, grace and generosity.’ (DBI)
How great is your goodness, which you have stored up…which you bestow – There is, as MHC says, enough in the bank and enough in hand.
On those who take refuge in you – ‘This goodness is laid up in his promise for all that fear God, to whom assurance is given that they shall want no good thing. But it is wrought, in the actual performance of the promise, for those that trust in him—that by faith take hold of the promise, put it in suit, and draw out to themselves the benefit and comfort of it.’ (MHC)
20 In the shelter of your presence you hide them from the intrigues of men; in your dwelling you keep them safe from accusing tongues.
21 Praise be to the LORD, for he showed his wonderful love to me when I was in a besieged city.
When I was in a besieged city – Probably metaphorical for feeling hemmed in on every side.
22 In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help.
In my alarm – So most modern translations. AV has ‘in my haste’, and on this MHC says, ‘It is a common thing to speak amiss when we speak in haste and without consideration; but what we speak amiss in haste we must repent of at leisure, particularly that which we have spoken distrustfully of God.’
23 Love the LORD, all his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful, but the proud he pays back in full.
24 Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.