Matthew Poole's Commentary
To the chief Musician upon Shoshannim, A Psalm of David. Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul.THE ARGUMENT
This Psalm of David consists of his complaints and fervent prayers, and comfortable predictions of his deliverance, and of the ruin of his enemies. But the condition of this Psalm is like that of divers others, wherein although the matter or substance of it agree in some sort to David, yet there are some singular passages, which he delivers with a particular respect unto Christ, of whom he was an eminent type, and upon whom his thoughts were much and often fixed, and of whom they are more fitly and fully understood; and therefore they are justly applied to him in the New Testament, as we shall see.
David (as a type of Christ) complaineth of his heavy and manifold afflictions, Psalm 69:1-12; fervently prayeth for help and deliverance, Psalm 69:13-21; giveth over his enemies to, destruction, Psalm 69:22-29; and praiseth God in confidence of being accepted, Psalm 69:30-34, and Zion saved, Psalm 69:35,36.
Waters, i.e. tribulations, which are oft expressed by waters; as hath been observed.
Unto my soul, i.e. to my vital parts; so that I am ready to be choked with them. My soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death.
I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.In deep mire, Heb. in the mire of the deep waters. I am not in the shallows, or nigh the bank, but in the middle and deepest parts, and in the very mire, which is at the bottom of the waters.
No standing; no firm and sure footing, but I sink in deeper and deeper, and, without thy speedy and almighty help, shall be overwhelmed and destroyed.
I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God.I am weary of my crying; I have prayed and cried to God long and fervently, and yet God seems to neglect and forsake me.
My throat is dried with loud and frequent cries.
Mine eyes fail with looking to God for that assistance which he hath promised, and I confidently expected, but in vain.
They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored that which I took not away.Without a cause; without any injury or occasion given them by me.
Restored that which I took not away; either because they unjustly and violently forced me to it, or because I was willing to do it to my own wrong for peace sake. By this one kind of wrong he understands all those injuries and violences which they practised against him.
O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee.This is added, either,
1. As a proof of his innocency, which he had now asserted by way of appeal to God. Do thou, O Lord, judge between me and them, whether I be guilty of those rallies and sins which they lay to my charge. And such appeals indeed David useth, Psalm 7:3,4, and elsewhere; but then they are delivered in form of a supposition, and not a positive assertion, as this is. Or rather,
2. As an exception to what he last said. But, O Lord, although I have been innocent to mine enemies, and have given them no cause to hate or persecute me, as they do; yet I must confess I am guilty of many sins and follies against thee, and have given thee just cause to punish me, and to give me up into their hands, and to deny or delay thine help unto me. By foolishness he means sin, as he explains it, which is commonly so called in Scripture; or by his
foolishness he means lesser sins, committed through ignorance or inconsiderateness, and by sins those of a grosser nature.
Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord GOD of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel.Them that wait on thee, i.e. thy godly people, who rely upon thy promises which thou hast made to all thine in general, and to me in a special manner, wherein they also are concerned.
Ashamed, i.e. frustrated of their just hopes; which will make them ashamed, either to look upon God, or to look upon their enemies, when they shall reproach them for their confidence in God.
For my sake; either,
1. For the sake of my sins last mentioned; let not all good men suffer for my sins. Or,
2. Because of my sad disappointments. For if they see me rejected and forsaken of God, whom they have esteemed a great example of faith, and prayer, and all virtue and piety, they will be exceedingly discouraged by this example; which will tend much to thy dishonour and disservice.
Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face.For thy sake; for my trust in thy promise, and obedience to thy commands, and zeal for thy glory, and against all wickedness; all which they turn into matter of derision and reproach.
My face; in which man’s majesty and glory is most evident, which I am in a manner ashamed to show amongst men.
I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children.My nearest kinsmen estranged themselves from me; partly out of fear, test they should be involved in my sufferings; and chiefly out of dislike of his piety and excessive zeal in religion, as it here follows.
For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.For: this is the reason of that alienation of my brethren and others from me, because there is a vast difference and contrariety in our tempers. They mind not the concerns of God and of religion, but are wholly intent upon wealth, and honour, and worldly greatness.
The zeal of thine house; that fervent passion which I have for thy house, and service, and glory, and people.
Eaten me up; exhausted and wasted my natural moisture and vital spirits, which is oft effected by grief and anger, and fervent love and desire; of which passions zeal is composed.
That reproached thee: that speak contemptuously or wickedly of thy name, or providence, or truth, or worship and service. Fallen upon me; either,
1. By imputation. They reflect upon me, because I am engaged in the defence of thy cause and glory, which wicked men oppose and despise, and therefore must needs suffer in it, and with it. Or,
2. By choice and affection. I have been as deeply affected with thy reproaches as with mine own. This whole verse, though truly belonging to David, yet was also directed by him, at least by the Spirit of God in him, to a higher use, to represent the disposition and condition of Christ, in whom this was more truly and fully accomplished than in David; to whom therefore it is applied in the New Testament, the first part of it, John 2:17, and the latter, Romans 15:3.
When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach.Wept for their impiety and reproaches which they cast upon God and godliness.
Chastened; which word is here understood out of Psalm 35:13; as it is also in 2 Chronicles 10:11,14, out of 1 Kings 12:11, where it is expressed.
My soul; either my body, or myself; the soul being oft used both ways. That was to my reproach; they derided me for my piety and devotion, and for my faith in God’s promises, and hopes of assistance from him.
I made sackcloth also my garment; and I became a proverb to them.My garment; wearing it next to my skin, in token of my humiliation and hearty sorrow, as the manner then was in days of fasting.
A proverb to them; they used my name proverbially of any person whom they thought vainly and foolishly religious.
They that sit in the gate speak against me; and I was the song of the drunkards.They that sit in the gate; either,
1. Vain and idle persons, that spend their time in the gates and markets, in which there used to be a confluence of people. Or rather,
2. The judges and magistrates, who used to sit (which was their posture, Exodus 18:14 Proverbs 20:8, &c.) in the gates of cities, the usual places of judicature; for David oft complains of his hard usage from these men, as Psalm 58:1,2 119:23, and elsewhere; which was the more grievous, because these, who were obliged by their office to protect and right him, did join with others in reproaching and oppressing him.
Of the drunkards; of the scum of the people; of all lewd and debauched persons. Thus both-high and low conspired against him.
But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O LORD, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation.But my prayer is unto thee; but whilst they scoff I will pray, and not be driven from God, and from my prayers and other duties, by all their reproaches or other discouragements.
In an acceptable time, Heb. in a time of acceptation, or grace, or thy good will, or good pleasure. These words may be joined, either,
1. With the following words, by way of limitation: Hear me in thy accepted time, i.e. I do not limit thee to a day or time, but when thou seest fit hear and help me. Or rather,
2. With the foregoing, as an argument to enforce his prayer: I pray in a time of grace or acceptation; I seek thee when thou mayest be found, as Psalm 32:6 Isaiah 55:6; in a good day, as they said, 1 Samuel 25:8, in the day of grace and mercy, in a time of great trouble, which is the proper season for prayer, Psalm 50:15; and whilst I have thee engaged to me by promises, which thy honour and truth oblige thee to perform, I come not too late, and therefore do thou hear me.
In the truth of thy salvation; or, for or according to thy saving truth or faithfulness; whereby thou art obliged to grant unto me that salvation which thou hast graciously promised.
Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink: let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters.Them that hate me; whereby he explains his meaning in these metaphors of mire, and waters, and deep, and pit.
Let not the waterflood overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me.No text from Poole on this verse.
Hear me, O LORD; for thy lovingkindness is good: turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies.Is good, i.e. is eminently and unspeakably good; the positive degree being put for the superlative, as it is Luke 1:28 1 Corinthians 12:23, &c. It is most ready to communicate itself to indigent and miserable creatures.
And hide not thy face from thy servant; for I am in trouble: hear me speedily.No text from Poole on this verse.
Draw nigh unto my soul, and redeem it: deliver me because of mine enemies.Draw nigh unto my soul, to support and relieve it, O thou who seemest to be departed far away from me.
Because of mine enemies; partly because they persecute it, and greedily seek to destroy it; and partly because they are thine as well as mine enemies, and if they succeed, will triumph not only over me, but in some sort over thee, and over religion.
Thou hast known my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonour: mine adversaries are all before thee.Thou hast known my reproach, & c.; thou seest how much of it I suffer, and that for thy sake; as he said, Psalm 69:7.
Are all before thee; thou knowest them thoroughly, and all their injurious and wicked devices and implacable malice against me, and all their impiety and contempt of thee; for which they deserve to be utterly and speedily destroyed.
Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.Hath broken my heart: for reproach is most grievous to the most generous and noble souls; and besides, this was the highest degree and the worst kind of reproach, being cast upon him for God’s sake, and upon God also for his sake.
None, i.e. few or none, as that word is frequently used, both in sacred and profane writers. For whether you understand it of David, or of Christ, there were some who pitied both of them.
They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.Gall, or poison, or bitter herbs, Hosea 10:4. See Deu 29:18 Jeremiah 9:15 Lamentations 3:19. Instead of giving me that pity and comfort which my condition required, they barbarously added to my afflictions. These things were metaphorically fulfilled in David, but properly and literally h Christ, the description of whose sufferings was principally intended here by the Holy Ghost, who therefore directed David’s pen to these words, and possibly informed him that this should be accomplished in Christ; which may not seem improbable to him that considers the following imprecations, which are so many and so severe, that they may seem to exceed the bounds of justice and charity, if they be applied to David’s enemies, as a recompence for their injuries done to him; whereas they most deservedly and fitly belong to the enemies and murderers of Christ.
Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap.These and the following words, which are expressed in the form of imprecations, are thought by divers to be and that the imperatives are put for the as sometimes they are. And accordingly they translate the words thus, Their table shall become a snare, But if they be imprecations, here was sufficient cause for them. And besides, it is apparent that they were not the dictates of human passion, but of Divine inspiration, from a just zeal for God’s glory, as hath been before.
Their table, i.e. their food, and all their for necessity or delight, either for body or soul; curses here following are spiritual and eternal as temporal. And so this may comprehend their sacrifices and other legal ordinances, and the word of God; all to the Jews through their own default a great occasion of stumbling at Christ. And this punishment in their table exactly answers to their sin in giving Christ gall for his meat, Psalm 69:21. Become a snare before them, Heb. before them (i.e. their table or meat, which is set
before them, which is the usual expression in this case, as Genesis 18:8 2 Kings 6:22) become a snare, i.e. the occasion or instrument of their destruction. It is a metaphor taken from birds or fishes, that are commonly ensnared and taken with their baits.
And that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap; Heb. and as for their great peace, (which the plural number seems to import, all that tranquillity and prosperity which they do or may enjoy,) let it be a trap; or, and their peace offerings (which sacrifices may be here mentioned, because the offerers did partake of them, and feast upon them; and so this agrees with the table expressed in the former clause) a trap. And so they were to the unbelieving Jews, whose false conceit of the everlastingness of the Mosaical dispensation was one cause of their rejection of Christ. Or thus, and for recompences, (i.e. an abundant compensation of all their injuries,) and for a trap. For thus it is rendered by divers, both ancient and modern, interpreters, and, which is more considerable, by the apostle, Romans 11:9.
Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not; and make their loins continually to shake.Their eyes; not the eyes of their bodies, (for so this was not accomplished in David’s nor in Christ’s enemies,) but of their minds, that they may not discern God’s truth, nor their own duty, nor the way of peace and salvation. Punish them in their own kind; as they shut their eyes and would not see, so do thou judicially blind them. This was threatened and inflicted upon the Jews, Isaiah 6:10 John 12:39,40.
Their loins: this also belongs to the loins of their minds or souls; of which we read Luke 12:35 1 Peter 1:13. The loins of the body are the seat of strength, and the great instrument of bodily motions and actions; which being applied to the mind, the sense may be, either,
1. Take away their courage and alacrity, and give them up to pusillanimity, and terror, and despair; or rather,
2. Take away their strength and ability for spiritual actions. In the former branch, he wisheth that they may not be able to see or choose their way; and here, that they may not be able to walk in it, nor to execute the good counsels which others may give them. As, on the other side, when God gives men strength, they are able not only to walk, but to run in the ways of God, Psalm 119:32 Song of Solomon 1:4 Isaiah 40:31.
Pour out thine indignation upon them, and let thy wrathful anger take hold of them.In such other ways and judgments as thou shalt think fit.
Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents.Their habitation, Heb. their palace, as this word signifies, Genesis 25:16 Numbers 31:10 Song of Solomon 8:9. Either,
1. Their temple, in which they place their glory and safety. Or rather,
2. and more generally, Their strongest and most magnificent buildings and houses, in which they dwelt, as it follows in the next clause, which explains this.
1. None of their posterity. Destroy them both root and branch. Or,
2. None at all. Let the places be accounted execrable and dreadful.
For they persecute him whom thou hast smitten; and they talk to the grief of those whom thou hast wounded.Smitten; which is an act of barbarous cruelty and inhuman malice. They talk; reproaching them with and insulting and triumphing in their calamities.
Add iniquity unto their iniquity: and let them not come into thy righteousness.Add iniquity to their iniquity; give them up to their own vain minds and vile lusts, and to a reprobate sense, and take off all the restraints of thy grace and providence, and expose them to the temptations of the world and of the devil, that so they may grow worse and worse, and at last may fill up the measure of their sins; as is said, Matthew 12:32: compare Romans 1:28,29. Or, Add punishment to their punishment; as this word is oft taken. Send one judgment upon them after another, without ceasing. Let them not
come into thy righteousness; let them never partake of thy righteousness, i.e. either,
1. Of thy faithfulness, in making good thy promises to them. Or,
2. Of thy mercy and goodness. Or rather,
3. Of thy righteousness, properly so called, of that everlasting righteousness which the Messiah shall bring into the world, Daniel 9:24, which is called the righteousness of God, Romans 1:17 Philippians 3:9, &c., which is said to be witnessed by the law and the prophets, Romans 3:21, by and for which God doth justify or pardon sinners, and accept them in Christ as righteous persons. For this was the righteousness which the Jews rejected to their own ruin, Romans 10:3, according to this prediction. Thus as the first branch of the verse maketh or supposeth them guilty of many sins, so this excludes them from the only remedy, the remission of their sins. And that justifying rather than sanctifying righteousness is here meant seems most probable from the phrase, which seems to be a judicial phrase, as we read of coming or entering into judgment, Job 22:4 34:23, and into condemnation, John 5:24, opposite unto which is this phrase, of coming into justification; or, which is all one, into thy righteousness.
Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.Of the living; or, of life: either,
1. Of this life. Out of the number of living men; which anciently used to be written in catalogues, out of which the names of those who died were blotted. Or rather,
2. Of eternal life, as both Jewish and Christian interpreters commonly understand it; which agrees best,
1. To the use of this phrase in Scripture; for in this sense men are said to be written in the book, Daniel 12:1, or in God’s book, Exodus 32:32, or in the book of life, Philippians 4:3 Revelation 3:5 13:8 17:8 20:12 21:27.
2. To the last clause of the verse, which explains it of that book, wherein none but
the righteous are written; whereas this life, and that attended with health and prosperity, is promiscuously given to and taken from good and bad men.
3. To the quality of the persons of whom this is said; which are the malicious enemies of God, and of his people, and the murderers of the Lord of glory, who shall be punished with eternal death. In this book men may be said to be written, either,
1. In reality, by God’s election or predestination. Or,
2. In appearance, when a man is called by God to the profession and practice of the true religion, and into covenant with himself, and professeth to comply with it; and so is written in the writing of the house of Israel, which is said of all that are in the assembly of God’s people, Ezekiel 13:9, and so seems to others, and it may be to himself, to be really written in the book of life. And when a man renounceth this profession and religion, he may be said to be
blotted out of that book, because his apostacy makes it evident that he was not written in it, as he seemed to be. For this is a known and approved rule for the understanding of many texts of Scripture, that things are oft said to be done when they only seem to be done, and are not really done; as he is said to find his life, . Matthew 10:39, who falsely imagined that he did find it, when in truth he lost it; and to have, Matthew 13:12, who only seemed to have, as it is explained in the parallel place, Luke 8:18; and to live, Romans 7:9, when he vainly conceited himself to be alive. And in like manner men may be said to be written in or blotted out of this book, when they seem to be so by the course of their lives and actions. But that this blotting out is not meant properly and positively, is clear from the last branch of this verse; which, after the manner of these books, expounds the former, wherein this doubtful phrase is explained by one which is evident and unquestionable, even by his not being written in it; for it is impossible that a man’s name should be properly blotted out of that book in which it was never written. The sense of the verse seems to be this, Let their wickedness be so notorious, and the tokens of God’s wrath upon them so manifest, that all men may discern that they are blotted out; that is, that they never were written in the book of life, in which the righteous are written.
With the righteous, i.e. in the book of life, in which all righteous or holy persons, and only they, are written; whereby it may appear that whatsoever show or profession they once made, yet they neither are nor were truly righteous persons.
But I am poor and sorrowful: let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high.Out of the reach of mine enemies; or, lift me out of the deep waters, and the mire, in which I was sinking, Psalm 69:14.
I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.No text from Poole on this verse.
This also shall please the LORD better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs.This sincere and hearty sacrifice of praise is and shall be more grateful to God than the most glorious legal sacrifices, for so such moral services ever were, 1 Samuel 15:22 Hosea 6:6, and such sacrifices shall be accepted when those legal ones shall be abolished.
That hath horns and hoofs: this is added as a description and commendation of the sacrifice, or bullock, which he supposeth to be of the best sort, both tender and mature, as it is when the horns bud forth, and the hoofs grow hard.
The humble shall see this, and be glad: and your heart shall live that seek God.Be glad; those pious persons who are grieved for my calamities shall have occasion to rejoice, and they will heartily rejoice in my deliverance and exaltation.
Shall live, or be revived, to wit, with joy, which were dejected, and in a manner dead with sorrow. Compare Genesis 45:27 Psalm 22:26 109:21.
For the LORD heareth the poor, and despiseth not his prisoners.Those who are in prison, or any straits and afflictions for his sake; which is my case, Psalm 69:7.
Let the heaven and earth praise him, the seas, and every thing that moveth therein.The heaven and earth; either,
1. Angels and men. Or rather,
2. The heaven and earth themselves, as in the next branch,
the seas, and every thing that moveth therein: all which by a usual figure he invites to praise God, as he doth elsewhere, because they all give men occasion to praise God.
For God will save Zion, and will build the cities of Judah: that they may dwell there, and have it in possession.Zion; the city of Zion or Jerusalem; and his church and people, which are frequently expressed under that title.
They; the humble and poor, Psalm 69:32,33, or his servants, as is explained in the following verse.
Dwell there; in the literal Canaan for a long time, and in the heavenly Canaan for ever.
The seed also of his servants shall inherit it: and they that love his name shall dwell therein.Their posterity shall flourish after them, and partake of the same happiness with them.