|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
56:1-7 Be merciful unto me, O God. This petition includes all the good for which we come to throne of grace. If we obtain mercy there, we need no more to make us happy. It implies likewise our best plea, not our merit, but God's mercy, his free, rich mercy. We may flee to, and trust the mercy of God, when surrounded on all sides by difficulties and dangers. His enemies were too hard for him, if God did not help him. He resolves to make God's promises the matter of his praises, and so we have reason to make them. As we must not trust an arm of flesh when engaged for us, so we must not be afraid of an arm of flesh when stretched out against us. The sin of sinners will never be their security. Who knows the power of God's anger; how high it can reach, how forcibly it can strike?
Verse 7. - Shall they escape by iniquity? Shall they escape God's judgments, the psalmist asks, by their iniquity? Assuredly not. God will prevent such an escape. In thine anger cast down the people, O God; literally, the peoples; i.e. the heathen generally, to whom David's enemies, the Gittites, belong. Though assured that they will not escape, the psalmist, to make assurance doubly sure, prays that they may not.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Shall they escape by iniquity?.... Shall such iniquity as this, or persons guilty of it, go unpunished, or escape righteous judgment, and the vengeance of God? No; and much less shall they escape by means of their iniquity; by their wicked subtlety, or by any evil arts and methods made use of, by making a covenant with death, and an agreement with hell; or escape because of their iniquity; or be delivered because of the abominations done by them, as they flatter themselves, Jeremiah 7:10. Some understand these words, not as referring to the escape of David's enemies, but of himself; and render them, either by way of petition, "because of iniquity", the iniquity of his enemies before described, "deliver me from them"; or "deliver them" (z), meaning his heels they marked, and his soul they waited for: or by way of assertion or interrogation, "because of iniquity" there shall be; or shall there be "a deliverance to them?" (a) his heels and his soul; or from them, his enemies. Though others choose to render the words thus; "because of their iniquity", there shall be "a casting of them away" (b) by the Lord, and from his presence, with loathing and contempt, as sons of Belial; reprobate silver, rejected of the Lord; which agrees with what follows:
in thine anger, cast down the people, O God; Saul's courtiers, or the servants of Achish king of Gath, or both, who were in high places, but slippery ones; and such are sometimes brought down to destruction in a moment, by that God from whom promotion comes; who putteth down one, and sets up another, and which he does in wrath and anger.
(z) "ob iniquitatem eorum eripe me", Schmidt; "illos", Gejerus; "ipsis", De Dieu. (a) "Ipsis est liberatio", Cocceius; "evasio erit eis?" Pagninus, Vatablus; "ereptio erit eis?" Piscator. (b) "Abjectio erit iis", Hammond.
The Treasury of David
7 Shall they escape by iniquity? in thine anger cast down the people, O God.
8 Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?
9 When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me.
"Shall they escape by iniquity?" Will such wickedness as this stand them in good stead? Can it be that this conduct shall enable them to avoid the sentence of earthly punishment? They slander the good man to screen themselves - will this avail them? They have cunningly managed hitherto, but will there not be an end to their games? "In thine anger cast down the people, O God." Trip them up in their tricks. Hurl them from the Tarpeian rock. A persecuted man finds a friend even in an angry. God, how much more in the God of love! When men seek to cast us down, it is but natural and not at all unlawful to pray that they may be disabled from the accomplishment of their infamous designs. What God often does we may safely ask him to do.
"Thou tellest my wanderings." Every step which the fugitive had taken when pursued by his enemies, was not only observed but thought worthy of counting and recording. We perhaps are so confused after a long course of trouble, that we hardly know where we have or where we have not been; but the omniscient and considerate Father of our spirits remembers all in detail, for he has counted them over as men count their gold, for even the trial of our faith is precious in his sight. "Put thou my tears into thy bottle." His sorrows were so many that there would need a great wine-skin to hold them all. There is no allusion to the little complimentary lachrymatories of fashionable and fanciful Romans, it is a robuster metaphor by far; such floods of tears had David wept that a leathern bottle would scarce hold them. He trusts that the Lord will be so considerate of his tears as to store them up as men do the juice of the vine, and he hopes that the place of storage will be a special one - "thy bottle," not a bottle. "Are they not in thy book?" Yes, they are recorded there, but let not only the record but the grief itself be present to thee. Look on my griefs as real things, for these move the heart more than a mere account, however exact. How condescending is the Lord! How exact his knowledge of us! How generous his estimations! How tender his regard!
"When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back." So soon as I pray they shall fly. So surely as I cry they shall be put to the rout.
"So swift is prayer to reach the sky,
So kind is God to me."
The machinery of prayer is not always visible, but it is most efficient. God inclines us to pray, we cry in anguish of heart, he hears, he acts, the enemy is turned back. What irresistible artillery is this which wins the battle as soon as its report is heard! What a God is this who hearkens to the cry of his children, and in a moment delivers them from the mightiest adversaries! "This I know." This is one of the believer's certainties, his axioms, his infallible, indisputable verities. "For God is for me." This we know, and we know, therefore, that none can be against us who are worth a moment's fear. "If God be for us, who can be against us?" Who will restrain prayer when it is so potent? Who will seek any other ally than God, who is instantly present so soon as we give the ordained signal, by which we testify both our need and our confidence?
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
7. Shall they escape? &c.—or better, "Their escape is by iniquity."
cast … people—humble those who so proudly oppose Thy servant.
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