In my distress I called on the LORD, and cried to my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Out Of his temple.—Rather, Place—plainly, as in Psalm 11:4; Psalm 29:9, the heavenly abode of Jehovah.
My cry.—In Samuel only, “my cry in his ears.”Psalm 18:6-7. He heard out of his temple — Either, 1st, Out of his sanctuary, where he was represented as dwelling between the cherubim, in the most holy place, and where he promised to hear and answer the prayers of his people, which were either made in or directed to it. Or, 2d, Out of his heavenly habitation, which is often called his temple. Then the earth shook and trembled — Then God appeared on my behalf in a miraculous and glorious manner, and to the great terror and confusion of all mine enemies, as though they had been surprised with an earthquake, in which the earth was shaken from its foundations, and all its rocks and mountains trembled. David proceeds, in this and the eight following verses, to describe, by the sublimest expressions, the awful manner in which Jehovah came to his assistance. The imagery employed, Dr. Horne thinks, is borrowed from mount Sinai, and those tremendous circumstances which attended the delivery of the law from thence. When a monarch is angry and prepares for war, the whole kingdom is instantly in commotion. Thus universal nature is here represented as feeling the effects of its great Sovereign’s displeasure, and all the visible elements appear disordered. The description must be allowed, by all skilful and impartial judges, to be truly noble and sublime, and in the genuine spirit of poetry. “The majesty of God, and the manner in which he is represented as coming to the aid of his favourite king, surrounded with all the powers of nature as his attendants and ministers, and arming heaven and earth to fight his battles and execute his vengeance, are described in the loftiest and most striking terms. The shaking of the earth, the trembling of the mountains and pillars of heaven; the smoke that ascended out of his nostrils; the flames of devouring fire that flashed from his mouth; the heavens bending down to convey him to the battle; his riding upon a cherub, and rapidly flying on the wings of a whirlwind; his concealing his majesty in the thick clouds of heaven; the bursting of the lightnings from the horrid darkness; the uttering his voice in peals of thunder; the storm of fiery hail; the melting of the heavens, and their dissolving into floods of tempestuous rains; the cleaving of the earth, and disclosing the bottom of the hills, and the subterraneous channels, or torrents of water, by the very breath of the nostrils of the Almighty; are all of them circumstances which create admiration, excite a kind of horror, and exceed every thing of this nature that is to be found in any of the remains of heathen antiquity. The grandest pieces thereof will be found, upon comparison, infinitely short of this description of the psalmist; throughout the whole of which God is represented as a mighty warrior, going forth to fight the battles of David, and highly incensed at the opposition his enemies made to his power and authority. When he descended to the engagement, the very heavens bowed down to render his descent more awful; his military tent was substantial darkness; the voice of his thunder was the warlike alarm which sounded to the battle; the chariot in which he rode were the thick clouds of heaven, conducted by cherubs, and carried on by the irresistible force and rapid wings of an impetuous tempest; and the darts and weapons he employed were thunder-bolts, lightnings, fiery hail, deluging rains, and stormy winds! No wonder that when God thus arose, all his enemies should be scattered, and those who hated him should flee before him! It does not appear, from any part of David’s history, that there ever was literally such a storm as is here described, which proved destructive to his enemies, and salutary to himself. There might, indeed, have been such a one, though there be no particular mention of it.” But it is more probable that the whole passage is to be understood figuratively, and that by these metaphorical and lofty expressions, and this sublime description, David only meant to set forth that storm of wrath and vengeance which God had poured upon his enemies and the glorious deliverance he had thereby wrought for him. See Dodd and Chandler.
I called upon the Lord - I prayed. That is, he invoked God to help him in his trouble. He relied not on his own strength; he looked not for human aid; he looked to God alone.
He heard my voice out of his temple - That is, he, being in his temple, heard my voice. The word rendered temple (compare the notes at Psalm 5:7) cannot refer here to the temple at Jerusalem, for that was built after the death of David, but it refers either to heaven, considered as the temple, or dwelling-place of God, or to the tabernacle, considered as his abode on earth. The sense is not materially varied, whichever interpretation is adopted. Compare Psalm 11:4.
And my cry came before him - He heard my cry. It was not intercepted on the way, but came up to him.
temple—(Compare Ps 11:4).Out of his temple; either, 1. Out of his sanctuary; whence he promised to hear and answer the prayers of his people, which are either made there or directed thither. Or,
2. Out of his heavenly habitation, which is oft called his temple: See Poole "Psalm 11:4". Hebrews 5:7;
and cried unto my God; as Jesus did, Matthew 27:46; so the members of Christ, when in distress, as they often are, through sin and Satan, through the hidings of God's face, a variety of afflictions, and the persecutions of men, betake themselves to the Lord, and call upon their God: a time of distress is a time for prayer; and sometimes the end God has in suffering them to be in distress is to bring them to the throne of his grace; and a great privilege it is they have that they have such a throne to come to for grace and mercy to help them in time of need, and such a God to sympathize with them, and help them; and their encouragement to call upon him, and cry unto him, is, that he is Jehovah, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent; who knows their wants, is able to help them, and is a God at hand to do it;
He heard my voice out of his temple; that is, out of heaven his dwelling place; for the temple at Jerusalem was not built in David's time; and it may be observed, that the prayer of the psalmist, or whom he represents, was a vocal one, and not merely mental; and hearing it intends a gracious regard unto it, an acceptance of it, and an agreeable answer: for it follows,
and my cry came before him, even into his ears; God did not cover himself with a cloud, that his prayer could not pass through; but it was admitted and received; it came up before him with acceptance; it reached his ears, and even entered into them, and was delightful music to them: see John 11:41.In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)6. called … cried] The tense in the original denotes frequent and repeated prayer. The text of 2 Sam. has called twice, no doubt by an error of transcription.
out of his temple] The palace-temple of heaven, where He sits enthroned. See on Psalm 11:4. Cp. Psalm 18:16.
and my cry &c.] R.V., and my cry before him came into his ears. But the terse vigour of the text in 2 Sam. is preferable: “and my cry was in his ears.” An alternative reading or an explanatory gloss has crept into the text here, to the detriment of the rhythm.Verse 6. - In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God. At this supreme moment, when he is entangled in the snares, and on the point of being slain, the psalmist represents himself as invoking the aid of the Almighty. As HengstenBerg notes, "While the manifold distresses are united in the beginning of the verse into one great 'distress,' so the manifold Divine hearings and helps are united into a single grand hearing and help" - and, we may add, the manifold cries into one great cry. He heard my voice out of his temple; i.e. his tabernacle, since the temple was not yet built (comp. Psalm 5:7; Psalm 11:4); or perhaps, "out of heaven "(Cheyne). And my cry came before him, even into his ears (comp. Exodus 2:23, where the same word is used for the "cry" of the children of Israel in Egypt). Matthew 5:8, Hebrews 12:14), and will, when this hope is realised by him, thoroughly refresh himself with the form of God. It is not sufficient to explain the vision of the divine countenance here as meaning the experience of the gracious influences which proceed from the divine countenance again unveiled and turned towards him. The parallel of the next clause requires an actual vision, as in Numbers 12:8, according to which Jahve appeared to Moses in the true form of His being, without the intervention of any self-manifestation of an accommodative and visionary kind; but at the same time, as in Exodus 33:20, where the vision of the divine countenance is denied to Moses, according to which, consequently, the self-manifestation of Jahve in His intercourse with Moses is not to be thought of without some veiling of Himself which might render the vision tolerable to him. Here, however, where David gives expression to a hope which is the final goal and the very climax of all his hopes, one has no right in any way to limit the vision of God, who in love permits him to behold Him (vid., on Psalm 11:7), and to limit the being satisfied with His תּמוּנה (lxx τὴν δόξαν σου, vid., Psychol. S. 49; transl. p. 61). If this is correct, then בּהקיץ cannot mean "when I wake up from this night's sleep" as Ewald, Hupfeld and others explain it; for supposing the Psalm were composed just before falling asleep what would be the meaning of the postponement of so transcendent a hope to the end of his natural sleep? Nor can the meaning be to "awake to a new life of blessedness and peace through the sunlight of divine favour which again arises after the night of darkness and distress in which the poet is now to be found" (Kurtz); for to awake from a night of affliction is an unsuitable idea and for this very reason cannot be supported. The only remaining explanation, therefore, is the waking up from the sleep of death (cf. Bttcher, De inferis 365-367). The fact that all who are now in their graves shall one day hear the voice of Him that wakes the dead, as it is taught in the age after the Exile (Daniel 12:2), was surely not known to David, for it was not yet revealed to him. But why may not this truth of revelation, towards which prophecy advances with such giant strides (Isaiah 26:19. Ezekiel 37:1-14), be already heard even in the Psalms of David as a bold demand of faith and as a hope that has struggled forth to freedom out of the comfortless conception of Shel possessed in that age, just as it is heard a few decades later in the master-work of a contemporary of Solomon, the Book of Job? The morning in Psalm 49:15 is also not any morning whatever following upon the night, but that final morning which brings deliverance to the upright and inaugurates their dominion. A sure knowledge of the fact of the resurrection such as, according to Hofmann (Schriftbeweis ii. 2, 490), has existed in the Old Testament from the beginning, is not expressed in such passages. For laments like Psalm 6:6; Psalm 30:10; Psalm 88:11-13, show that no such certain knowledge as then in existence; and when the Old Testament literature which we now possess allows us elsewhere an insight into the history of the perception of redemption, it does not warrant us in concluding anything more than that the perception of the future resurrection of the dead did not pass from the prophetic word into the believing mind of Israel until about the time of the Exile, and that up to that period faith made bold to hope for a redemption from death, but only by means of an inference drawn from that which was conceived and existed within itself, without having an express word of promise in its favour.
(Note: To this Hofmann, loc. cit. S. 496, replies as follows: "We do not find that faith indulges in such boldness elsewhere, or that the believing ones cherish hopes which are based on such insecure grounds." But the word of God is surely no insecure ground, and to draw bold conclusions from that which is intimated only from afar, was indeed, even in many other respects (for instance, respecting the incarnation, and respecting the abrogation of the ceremonial law), the province of the Old Testament faith.)
Thus it is here also. David certainly gives full expression to the hope of a vision of God, which, as righteous before God, will be vouchsafed to him; and vouchsafed to him, even though he should fall asleep in death in the present extremity (Psalm 13:4), as one again awakened from the sleep of death, and, therefore (although this idea does not directly coincide with the former), as one raised from the dead. But this hope is not a believing appropriation of a "certain knowledge," but a view that, by reason of the already existing revelation of God, lights up out of his consciousness of fellowship with Him.
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