Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
<<A Psalm of David.>> The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
In this first strophe is expressed the bold confidence of faith. It is a hexastich in the caesural schema. Let darkness break in upon him, the darkness of night, of trouble, and of spiritual conflict, yet Jahve is his Light, and if he is in Him, he is in the light and there shines upon him a sun, that sets not and knows no eclipse. This sublime, infinitely profound name for God, אורי, is found only in this passage; and there is only one other expression that can be compared with it. viz., בּא אורך in Isaiah 60:1; cf. φῶς ἐλήλυθα, John 12:46. ישׁעי does not stand beside אורי as an unfigurative, side by side with a figurative expression; for the statement that God is light, is not a metaphor. David calls Him his "salvation" in regard to everything that oppresses him, and the "stronghold (מעוז from עזז, with an unchangeable ) of his life" in regard to everything that exposes him to peril. In Jahve he conquers far and wide; in Him his life is hidden as it were behind a fortress built upon a rock (Psalm 31:3). When to the wicked who come upon him in a hostile way (קרב על differing from קרב אל), he attributes the intention of devouring his flesh, they are conceived of as wild beasts. To eat up any one's flesh signifies, even in Job 19:22, the same as to pursue any one by evil speaking (in Aramaic by slander, back-biting) to his destruction. In בּקרב (the Shebג of the only faintly closed syllable is raised to a Chateph, as in ולשׁכני, Psalm 31:12, לשׁאול, and the like. The לי of איבי לּי may, as also in Psalm 25:2 (cf. Psalm 144:2), be regarded as giving intensity to the notion of special, personal enmity; but a mere repetition of the subject (the enemy) without the repetition of their hostile purpose would be tame in the parallel member of the verse: לי is a variation of the preceding עלי, as in Lamentations 3:60. In the apodosis המּה כּשׁלוּ ונפלוּ, the overthrow of the enemy is regarded beforehand as an accomplished fact. The holy boldness and imperturbable repose are expressed in Psalm 27:3 in the very rhythm. The thesis or downward movement in Psalm 27:3 is spondaic: he does not allow himself to be disturbed; the thesis in Psalm 27:3 is iambic: he can be bold. The rendering of Hitzig (as of Rashi): "in this do I trust, viz., that Jahve is my light, etc.," is erroneous. Such might be the interpretation, if בזאת אני בוטח closed Psalm 27:2; but it cannot refer back over Psalm 27:2 to Psalm 27:1; and why should the poet have expressed himself thus materially, instead of saying ביהוה? The fact of the case is this, בוטח signifies even by itself "of good courage," e.g., Proverbs 11:15; and בזאת "in spite of this" (Coccejus: hoc non obstante), Leviticus 26:27, cf. Psalm 78:32, begins the apodosis, at the head of which we expect to find an adversative conjunction.
When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.
Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.
One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple.
There is only one thing, that he desires, although he also has besides full satisfaction in Jahve in the midst of strangers and in trouble. The future is used side by side with the perfect in Psalm 27:4, in order to express an ardent longing which extends out of the past into the future, and therefore runs through his whole life. The one thing sought is unfolded in שׁבתּי וגו. A life-long dwelling in the house of Jahve, that is to say intimate spiritual intercourse with the God, who has His dwelling (בית), His palace (היכל) in the holy tent, is the one desire of David's heart, in order that he may behold and feast upon (חזה בּ of a clinging, lingering, chained gaze, and consequently a more significant form of expression than חזה with an accusative, Psalm 63:3) נעם ה (Psalm 90:17), the pleasantness (or gracefulness) of Jahve, i.e., His revelation, full of grace, which is there visible to the eye of the spirit. The interpretation which regards amaenitas as being equivalent to amaenus cultus takes hold of the idea from the wrong side. The assertion that בּקּר בּ is intended as a synonym of חזה בּ, of a pleased and lingering contemplation (Hupf., Hitz.), is contrary to the meaning of the verb, which signifies "to examine (with ל to seek or spie about after anything, Leviticus 13:36), to reflect on, or consider;" even the post-biblical signification to visit, more especially the sick (whence בּקּוּר הלים), comes from the primary meaning investigare. An appropriate sense may be obtained in the present instance by regarding it as a denominative from בּקשׁ and rendering it as Dunash and Rashi have done, "and to appear early in His temple;" but it is unnecessary to depart from the general usage of the language. Hengstenberg rightly retains the signification "to meditate on." בּהיכלו is a designation of the place consecrated to devotion, and לבקּר is meant to refer to contemplative meditation that loses itself in God who is there manifest. In Psalm 27:5 David bases the justification of his desire upon that which the sanctuary of God is to him; the futures affirm what Jahve will provide for him in His sanctuary. It is a refuge in which he may hide himself, where Jahve takes good care of him who takes refuge therein from the storms of trouble that rage outside: there he is far removed from all dangers, he is lifted high above them and his feet are upon rocky ground. The Chethb may be read בּסכּה, as in Psalm 31:21 and with Ewald 257, d; but, in this passage, with אהל alternates סך, which takes the place of סכּה in the poetic style (Psalm 76:3; Lamentations 2:6), though it does not do so by itself, but always with a suffix.
(Note: Just in like manner they say in poetic style צידהּ, Psalm 132:15; פּנּהּ, Proverbs 7:8; מדּה, Job 11:9; גּלּהּ, Zechariah 4:2; and perhaps even נצּהּ, Genesis 40:10; for צידתהּ, פּנּתהּ, מדּתהּ, גּלּתהּ, and נצּתהּ; as, in general, shorter forms are sometimes found in the inflexion, which do not occur in the corresponding principal form, e.g., צוּרם, Psalm 49:15, for צוּרתם; מגוּרם, Psalm 55:16, for מגוּרתם; בּערמם, Job 5:13, for בּערמתם; בּתבוּנם, Hosea 13:2, for בּתבוּנתם; פּחם; Nehemiah 5:14, for פּחתם; cf. Hitzig on Hosea 13:2, and Bttcher's Neue Aehrenlese, No. 693.)
For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.
And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.
With ועתּה the poet predicts inferentially (cf. Psalm 2:10) the fulfilment of what he fervently desires, the guarantee of which lies in his very longing itself. זבחי תּרוּעה do not mean sacrifices in connection with which the trumpets are blown by the priests; for this was only the case in connection with the sacrifices of the whole congregation (Numbers 10:10), not with those of individuals. תּרוּעה is a synonym of תּודה, Psalm 26:7; and זבחי תּרוּעה is a stronger form of expression for זבחי תודה (Psalm 107:22), i.e., (cf. זבחי צדק, Psalm 4:6; Psalm 51:21) sacrifices of jubilant thanksgiving: he will offer sacrifices in which his gratitude plays a prominent part, and will sing songs of thanksgiving, accompanied by the playing of stringed instruments, to his Deliverer, who has again and so gloriously verified His promises.
Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
Vows of thanksgiving on the assumption of the answering of the prayer and the fulfilment of the thing supplicated, are very common at the close of Psalms. But in this Psalm the prayer is only just beginning at this stage. The transition is brought about by the preceding conception of the danger that threatens him from the side of his foes who are round about him. The reality, which, in the first part, is overcome and surmounted by his faith, makes itself consciously felt here. It is not to be rendered, as has been done by the Vulgate, Exaudi Domine vocem qua clamavi (rather, clamo) ad te (the introit of the Dominica exspectationis in the interval of preparation between Ascension and Pentecost). שׁמע has Dechמ, and accordingly קולי אקרא, voce mea (as in Psalm 3:5) clamo, is an adverbial clause equivalent to voce mea clamante me. In Psalm 27:8 לך cannot possibly be so rendered that ל is treated as Lamed auctoris (Dathe, Olshausen): Thine, saith my heart, is (the utterance:) seek ye may face. The declaration is opposed to this sense, thus artificially put upon it. לך אמר are undoubtedly to be construed together; and what the heart says to Jahve is not: Seek ye my face, but by reason of this, and as its echo (Calvin: velut Deo succinens): I will therefore seek Thy face. Just as in Job 42:3, a personal inference is drawn from a directly quoted saying of God. In the periodic style it would be necessary to transpose בּקּשׁוּ פּני thus: since Thou hast permitted and exhorted us, or in accordance with Thy persuasive invitation, that we should seek Thy face, I do seek Thy face (Hupfeld). There is no retrospective reference to any particular passage in the Tפra, such as Deuteronomy 4:29. The prayer is not based upon any single passage of Scripture, but upon God's commands and promises in general.
When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.
Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.
The requests are now poured forth with all the greater freedom and importunity, that God may be willing to be entreated and invoked. The Hiph. הטּה signifies in this passage standing by itself (cf. Job 24:4): to push aside. The clause עזרתי היית does not say: be Thou my help (which is impossible on syntactical grounds), nor is it to be taken relatively: Thou who wast my help (for which there is no ground in what precedes); but on the contrary the praet. gives the ground of the request that follows "Thou art my help (lit., Thou has become, or hast ever been) - cast me, then, not away," and it is, moreover, accented accordingly. Psalm 27:10, as we have already observed, does not sound as though it came from the lips of David, of whom it is only said during the time of his persecution by Saul, that at that time he was obliged to part from his parents, 1 Samuel 22:3. The words certainly might be David's, if Psalm 27:10 would admit of being taken hypothetically, as is done by Ewald, ֗362, b: should my father and my mother forsake me, yet Jahve will etc. But the entreaty "forsake me not" is naturally followed by the reason: for my father and my mother have forsaken me; and just as naturally does the consolation: but Jahve will take me up, prepare the way for the entreaties which begin anew in Psalm 27:11. Whereas, if כי is taken hypothetically, Psalm 27:11 stands disconnectedly in the midst of the surrounding requests. On יאספני cf. Joshua 20:4.
When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.
Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.
He is now wandering about like a hunted deer; but God is able to guide him so that he may escape all dangers. And this is what he prays for. As in Psalm 143:10, מישׁור is used in an ethical sense; and differs in this respect from its use in Psalm 26:12. On שׁררים, see the primary passage Psalm 5:9, of which this is an echo. Wily spies dodge his every step and would gladly see what they have invented against him and wished for him, realised. Should he enter the way of sin leading to destruction, it would tend to the dishonour of God, just as on the contrary it is a matter of honour with God not to let His servant fall. Hence he prays to be led in the way of God, for a oneness of his own will with the divine renders a man inaccessible to evil. נפשׁ, Psalm 27:12, is used, as in Psalm 17:9, and in the similar passage, which is genuinely Davidic, Psalm 41:3, in the signification passion or strong desire; because the soul, in its natural state, is selfishness and inordinate desire. יפח is a collateral form of יפיח; they are both adjectives formed from the future of the verb פּוּח (like ירב, יריב): accustomed to breathe out (exhale), i.e., either to express, or to snort, breathe forth (cf. πνεῖν, or ἐμπνεῖν φόνον and θόνοῦ, θυμον, and the like, Acts 9:1). In both Hitzig sees participles of יפח (Jeremiah 4:31); but Psalm 10:5 and Habakkuk 2:3 lead back to פּוּח (פּיח); and Hupfeld rightly recognises such nouns formed from futures to be, according to their original source, circumlocutions of the participle after the manner of an elliptical relative clause (the ṣifat of the Arabic syntax), and explains יפיח כּזבים, together with יפח חמס, from the verbal construction which still continues in force.
Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.
I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
Self-encouragement to firmer confidence of faith. Joined to Psalm 27:12 (Aben-Ezra, Kimchi), Psalm 27:13 trails badly after it. We must, with Geier, Dachselt, and others, suppose that the apodosis is wanting to the protasis with its לוּלא pointed with three points above,
(Note: The ו has not any point above it, because it might be easily mistaken for a Cholem, vid., Baer's Psalterium p. 130.)
and four below, according to the Masora (cf. B. Berachoth 4a), but a word which is indispensably necessary, and is even attested by the lxx (ἑαυτῇ) and the Targum (although not by any other of the ancient versions); cf. the protasis with לוּ, which has no apodosis, in Genesis 50:15, and the apodoses with כּי after לוּלי in Genesis 31:42; Genesis 43:10; 1 Samuel 35:34; 2 Samuel 2:27 (also Numbers 22:33, where אוּלי equals אם לא equals לוּלי), which are likewise to be explained per aposiopesin. The perfect after לוּלא (לוּלי) has sometimes the sense of a plusquamperfectum (as in Genesis 43:10, nisi cunctati essemus), and sometimes the sense of an imperfect, as in the present passage (cf. Deuteronomy 32:29, si saperent). The poet does not speak of a faith that he once had, a past faith, but, in regard to the danger that is even now abiding and present, of the faith he now has, a present faith. The apodosis ought to run something like this (Psalm 119:92; Psalm 94:17): did I not believe, were not confidence preserved to me...then (אז( ne or כּי אז) I should perish; or: then I had suddenly perished. But he has such faith, and he accordingly in Psalm 27:14 encourages himself to go on cheerfully waiting and hoping; he speaks to himself, it is, as it were, the believing half of his soul addressing the despondent and weaker half. Instead of ואמץ (Deuteronomy 31:7) the expression is, as in Psalm 31:25, ויאמץ לבּך, let thy heart be strong, let it give proof of strength. The rendering "May He (Jahve) strengthen thy heart" would require יאמּץ; but האמיץ, as e.g., הרחיב Psalm 25:17, belongs to the transitive denominatives applying to the mind or spirit, in which the Hebrew is by no means poor, and in which the Arabic is especially rich.
Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.