|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
17:1-7 This psalm is a prayer. Feigned prayers are fruitless; but if our hearts lead our prayers, God will meet them with his favour. The psalmist had been used to pray, so that it was not his distress and danger that now first brought him to his duty. And he was encouraged by his faith to expect God would notice his prayers. Constant resolution and watchfulness against sins of the tongue, will be a good evidence of our integrity. Aware of man's propensity to wicked works, and of his own peculiar temptations, David had made God's word his preservative from the paths of Satan, which lead to destruction. If we carefully avoid the paths of sin, it will be very lead to destruction. If we carefully avoid the paths of sin, it will be very comfortable in the reflection, when we are in trouble. Those that are, through grace, going in God's paths, should pray that their goings may be held up in those paths. David prays, Lord, still hold me up. Those who would proceed and persevere in the ways of God, must, by faith prayer, get daily fresh supplies of grace and strength from him. Show thy marvellous loving-kindness, distinguishing favours, not common mercies, but be gracious to me; do as thou usest to do to those who love thy name.
Verse 5. - Hold thou up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not. So De Wette and Rosenmuller; but most recent critics prefer to consider the words as an assertion rather than a prayer, and translate, "My steps have held fast to thy paths: [therefore] my feet have not been moved" (Kay, Hengstenberg, Alexander, Cheyne, 'Speaker's Commentary,' Revised Version).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Hold up my goings in thy paths,.... Which being spoken by David in his own person, and for himself, shows that he was conscious of his own weakness to keep himself in the ways of God, and to direct his steps therein; and that he was sensible of, the need he stood in of divine power to uphold and support him in them;
that my footsteps slip not; out of the paths of truth and duty, of faith and holiness; of which there is danger, should a man be left to himself, and destitute of divine direction and aid; see Psalm 73:2; and though Christ had no moral weakness in him, and was in no danger of falling into sin, or slipping out of the ways of God; yet these words may be applied to him in a good sense, as considered in human nature, and attended with the sinless infirmities of it, he being God's servant, whom he upheld, and of whom he gave his angels charge to keep him in all his ways, Isaiah 42:1.
The Treasury of David
5 Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not.
6 I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God: incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech.
Under trial it is not easy to behave ourselves aright; a candle is not easily kept alight when many envious mouths are puffing at it. In evil times prayer is peculiarly needful, and wise men resort to it at once. Plato said to one of his disciples, "When men speak ill of thee, live so that no one will believe them;" good enough advice, but he did not tell us how to carry it out. We have a precept here incorporated in an example; if we would be preserved, we must cry to the Preserver, and enlist divine support upon our side. "Hold up my goings" - as a careful driver holds up his horse when going down hill. We have all sorts of paces, both fast and slow, and the road is never long of one sort, but with God to hold up our goings, nothing in the pace or in the road can cast down. He who has been down once and cut his knees sadly, even to the bone, had need redouble his zeal when using this prayer; and all of us, since we are so weak on our legs through Adam's fall, had need use it every hour of the day. If a perfect father fell, how shall an imperfect son dare to boast? "In thy paths." Forsaking Satan's paths, he prayed to be upheld in God's paths. We cannot keep from evil without keeping to good. If the bushel be not full of wheat, it may soon be once more full of chaff. In all the appointed ordinances and duties of our most holy faith, may the Lord enable us to run through his upholding grace! "That my footsteps slip not." What I slip in God's ways? Yes, the road is good, but our feet are evil, and therefore slip, even on the King's highway. Who wonders if carnal men slide and fall in ways of their own choosing, which, like the vale of Siddirn, are full of deadly slime-pits? One may trip over an ordinance as well as over a temptation. Jesus Christ himself is a stumbling-block to some, and the doctrines of grace have been the occasion of offence to many. Grace alone can hold up our goings in the paths of truth.
"1 have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God." Thou hast always heard me, O my Lord, and therefore I have the utmost confidence in again approaching thine altar. Experience is a blessed teacher. He who has tried the faithfulness of God in hours of need, has great boldness in laying his case before the throne. The well of Bethlehem, from which we drew such cooling draughts in years gone by, our souls long for still; nor will we leave it for the broken cisterns of earth. "Incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech." Stoop out of heaven and put thine ear to my mouth; give me thine ear all to myself, as men do when they lean over to catch every word from their friend. The Psalmist here comes back to his first prayer, and thus sets us an example of pressing our suit again and again, until we have a full assurance that we have succeeded.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. May be read as an assertion "my steps or goings have held on to Thy paths."
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