Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man.
Judge me, O God - This does not mean, Pronounce sentence upon me; but, Undertake my cause; interpose in my behalf; do justice in the case. He regarded his own cause as right; he felt that he was greatly wronged by the treatment which he received from people, and he asks to have it shown that he was not guilty of what his enemies charged on him; that he was an upright man, and a friend of God. See Psalm 7:8, note; Psalm 26:1, note.
And plead my cause - See the notes at Psalm 35:1. "Against an ungodly nation." Margin, unmerciful. Literally, "from a nation not merciful," or not; religious. The idea is, that the nation or people referred to manifested none of the spirit of religion in their conduct toward him; that he was treated with severity and injustice. This entire description would agree well with the state of things in the time of the rebellion of Absalom, when David was driven from his home and his throne: 2 Samuel 15, following.
O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man - Margin, as in Hebrew, from a man of deceit and iniquity. This would apply well to the case and character of Absalom, or perhaps more directly and properly to the character and counsel of Ahithophel, among the leading conspirators in the rebellion of Absalom, to whose counsels much of the rebellion was owing: 2 Samuel 15:31; compare 2 Samuel 16:23; 2 Samuel 17:14, 2 Samuel 17:23.
For thou art the God of my strength: why dost thou cast me off? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
For thou art the God of my strength - See Psalm 18:2, note; Psalm 28:7, note.
Why dost thou cast me off? - As if I were none of thine; as if I were wholly abandoned. Compare the notes at Psalm 22:1. The word rendered "cast off" - זנח zânach - is a word which implies strong disgust or loathing: "Why dost thou cast me off as a loathsome or disgusting object?" Compare Revelation 3:16. The Hebrew word means properly to be foul, to be rancid, to stink: then, to be loathsome or abominable; and then, to treat or regard anything as such. Compare Hosea 8:3, Hosea 8:5; Isaiah 19:6.
Why go I mourning ... - See the notes at Psalm 42:9. This expression, with others of a similar character, renders it morally certain that this psalm was composed by the same person, and with reference to the same circumstances, as the former.
O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.
O send out thy light and thy truth - Send them forth as from thy presence; or, let them be made manifest. The word light here is equivalent to favor or mercy, as when one prays for the "light of God's countenance" (see the notes at Psalm 4:6); and the idea is, that now, in the time of darkness and trouble, when the light of God's countenance seemed to be withdrawn or hidden, he prays that God would impart light; that he would restore his favor; that he would conduct him back again to his former privileges. The word truth here is equivalent to truthfulness or faithfulness; and the prayer is, that God would manifest his faithfulness to him as one of his own people, by restoring him to the privileges and blessings from which he had been unjustly driven. Compare the notesat Psalm 25:5.
Let them lead me - That is, Let them lead me back to my accustomed privileges; let me go under their guidance to the enjoyment of the blessings connected with the place of public worship.
Let them bring me unto thy holy hill - Mount Zion; the place where the worship of God was then celebrated, and hence called the "holy hill" of God.
And to thy tabernacles - The tabernacle was the sacred tent erected for the worship of God (see the notes at Psalm 15:1), and was regarded as the place where Yahweh had his abode. The tabernacle was divided, as the temple was afterward, into two parts or rooms, the holy and the most holy place (see the notes at Hebrews 9:1-5); and hence the plural term, tabernacles, might be employed in speaking of it. The language here implies, as in Psalm 42:1-11, that the author of the psalm was now exiled or banished from this, and hence, also it may be inferred that the two psalms were composed by the same author, and with reference to the same occasion. If the reference here, moreover, is to Mount Zion as the "holy hill," it may be observed that this would fix the composition of the psalm to the time of David, as before his time that was not the place of the worship of God, but was made "holy" by his removing the ark there. After his time the place of worship was removed to Mount Moriah, where the temple was built. It cannot be demonstrated, however, with absolute certainty that the reference here is to Mount Zion, though that seems in every way probable. Compare Psalm 2:6, note; Psalm 3:4, note; compare 2 Samuel 5:7-9; 2 Samuel 6:17.
Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God.
Then will I go unto the altar of God - The altar on Mount Zion, where sacrifices were offered: 2 Samuel 6:17. The meaning is, that he would again unite with others in the public and customary worship of God. Compare the notes at Psalm 42:4.
Unto God - Into the immediate presence of God; the place where he was worshipped.
My exceeding joy - Margin, the gladness of my joy. The Septuagint renders this, "who makes my youth joyous:" or, "the joy of my youth," (Thompson) The Hebrew is, the gladness of my joy; meaning, that God was the source of his joy, so that he found all his happiness in Him.
Yea, upon the harp will I praise thee - Compare the notes at Psalm 33:2-3. Instruments of music were commonly used in the worship of God, and David is represented as excelling in the music of the harp. Compare 1 Samuel 16:16-23.
O God, my God - It was not merely God as such that he desired to worship, or to whom he now appealed, but God as his God, the God to whom he had devoted himself, and whom he regarded as his God even in affliction and trouble. Compare the notes at Psalm 22:1.
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
Why art thou cast down?... - See Psalm 42:5, note; Psalm 42:11, note. The sameness of this verse with Psalm 42:5, Psalm 42:11 proves, as has been already remarked, that this psalm was composed by the same writer, and with reference to the same subject as the former. The doctrine which is taught is the same - that we should not be dejected or cast down in the troubles of life, but should hope in God, and look forward to better times, if not in this world, certainly in the world to come. If we are his children, we shall "yet praise him;" we shall acknowledge him as the "health" or the salvation (Hebrew) of our countenance; as one who by giving "salvation" diffuses joy over our countenance; as one who will manifest himself as our God. He who has an eternity of blessedness before him - he who is to dwell forever in a world of peace and joy - he who is soon to enter an abode where there will be no sin, no sadness, no tears, no death - he who is to commence a career of glory which is never to terminate and never to change - should not be cast down - should not be overwhelmed with sorrow.