|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
143:1-6 We have no righteousness of our own to plead, therefore must plead God's righteousness, and the word of promise which he has freely given us, and caused us to hope in. David, before he prays for the removal of his trouble, prays for the pardon of his sin, and depends upon mercy alone for it. He bemoans the weight upon his mind from outward troubles. But he looks back, and remembers God's former appearance for his afflicted people, and for him in particular. He looks round, and notices the works of God. The more we consider the power of God, the less we shall fear the face or force of man. He looks up with earnest desires towards God and his favour. This is the best course we can take, when our spirits are overwhelmed. The believer will not forget, that in his best actions he is a sinner. Meditation and prayer will recover us from distresses; and then the mourning soul strives to return to the Lord as the infant stretches out its hands to the indulgent mother, and thirsts for his consolations as the parched ground for refreshing rain.
Verse 3. - For the enemy hath persecuted my soul. "The enemy" may be Saul, but is more probably an abstract expression - for "my enemies" generally. He hath smitten my life down to the ground; or, "crushed my life to the ground" - brought me, i.e., very low (comp. Psalm 42:6). He hath made me to dwell in darkness (comp. Psalm 88:6). As those that have been long dead. I have dwelt in a darkness like that of Shell; i.e. in gloom and unhappiness (comp. Lamentations 3:6).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For the enemy hath persecuted my soul,.... Which is to be connected with Psalm 143:1; and is a reason why he desires his prayer might be answered, seeing his enemy, either Saul, or Absalom his own son, persecuted him, or pursued him in order to take away his soul, or life; or Satan, the enemy and avenger, who goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour; or persecuting men, who are his emissaries and instruments, whom he instigates to persecute the Lord's people, and employs them therein;
he hath smitten my life down to the ground: brought him into a low, mean, and abject state, and near to death; had with a blow struck him to the ground, and left him wallowing in the mire and dirt, just ready to expire. The phrase is expressive of a very distressing state and condition. Some render it "my company" (r); meaning the men that were with him, his soldiers, who were reduced to a low condition with him, and greatly enfeebled and dispirited;
he hath made me to dwell in darkness: in the sides of the cave, as Kimchi; see 2 Samuel 24:3; or in great affliction of body and mind, frequently signified by darkness, as prosperity is by light; he was not only obliged by his enemy to hide himself in woods and wildernesses, and in caves and dens, but was filled with gloomy apprehensions of things, Psalm 88:6;
as those that have been long dead; or "of old" (s), an age or two ago, who are out of mind and forgotten, and of whom there is no hope of their coming to life again until the resurrection; or who are "dead for ever" (t); will remain so till that time comes; signifying hereby his hopeless, helpless, and forlorn state and condition; see Psalm 31:12.
(r) "catervam meam", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (s) "olim", Tigurine version, Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius. (t) So Syriac and Arabic versions.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3, 4. The exciting reason for his prayer—his afflictions—led to confession as just made: he now makes the complaint.
as those that have been long dead—deprived of life's comforts (compare Ps 40:15; 88:3-6).
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