Psalm 118:5
I called on the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place.
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(5) I called.—Better, out of the straitness I cried to Jah; answered me, with freedom, Jah. The meaning of the last clause (literally, with room. Comp.: “Ay, marry, now my soul has elbow-room”—King John) is determined by the parallelism of Psalm 18:19. The versions read “freedom of Jah,” i.e., boundless freedom,”

Psalm 118:5-7. I called upon the Lord in distress — As if he had said, You may see an example of the divine mercy in me, who was in grievous straits and dangers, but, imploring God’s protection and help, he answered me, and set me in a large place — He not only delivered me, but placed me in a secure condition, free from all such molestation. Dr. Waterland renders the clause, The Lord answered me with enlargement. The Lord is on my side — It is evident he takes my part; I will not fear, &c. — Though I have many enemies, I am not afraid of them, for greater is he that is for me than all those that are against me. What can man do unto me? — Man, a frail and impotent creature in himself, and much more when he is opposed to the almighty God. He can do nothing to me but what God permits him to do; nothing but what God can and will make to work for my good. The apostle quotes this verse with application to all true Christians, Hebrews 13:6. The Lord taketh my part, &c. — He is present with my helpers, and enables them to defend me; therefore shall I see my desire, &c. — I shall see my enemies defeated in their designs against me.118:1-18 The account the psalmist here gives of his troubles is very applicable to Christ: many hated him without a cause; nay, the Lord himself chastened him sorely, bruised him, and put him to grief, that by his stripes we might be healed. God is sometimes the strength of his people, when he is not their song; they have spiritual supports, though they want spiritual delights. Whether the believer traces back his comfort to the everlasting goodness and mercy of God, or whether he looks forward to the blessing secured to him, he will find abundant cause for joy and praise. Every answer to our prayers is an evidence that the Lord is on our side; and then we need not fear what man can do unto us; we should conscientiously do our duty to all, and trust in him alone to accept and bless us. Let us seek to live to declare the works of God, and to encourage others to serve him and trust in him. Such were the triumphs of the Son of David, in the assurance that the good pleasure of the Lord should prosper in his hand.I called upon the Lord in distress - Margin, as in Hebrew, "out of distress." In the very midst of trouble he called upon the Lord; his voice was heard, as it were, coming from the depth of his sorrows. See the notes at Psalm 18:6.

The Lord answered me - That is, he heard my prayers, and delivered me. See the notes at Psalm 18:6.

And set me in a large place - I was before pressed on every side; sorrows compassed me around; I could not move; I had no liberty. Now he gave me space and freedom on every side, so that I could move without obstruction or pain. This is literally, "The Lord" - (not יהוה Yahweh here, but יה Yâhh) "answered me in a large place." See Psalm 4:1, note; Psalm 18:19, note.

5. distress—literally, "straits," to which "large place" corresponds, as in Ps 4:1; 31:8.5 I called upon the Lord in distress: the Lord answered me, and set me in a large place.

6 The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?

7 The Lord taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me.

8 It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.

9 It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.

10 All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the Lord will I destroy them.

11 They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.

12 They compassed me about like bees; they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.

13 Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall: but the Lord helped me.

14 The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.

15 The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.

16 The right hand of the Lord is exalted: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.

17 I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.

18 The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death.


Set me; which verb is tacitly included in the former, and is easily understood out of Psalm 31:8, where the full phrase is expressed, and from the following word. See the like examples in the Hebrew text, Genesis 12:15 Psalm 22:21, &c. I called upon the Lord in distress,.... Or "out of that strait" (q); when David was encompassed by Saul and his men, or when at the court of Achish, or when his own people talked of stoning him. As this may respect the Messiah, it may design his distresses in the garden, when surrounded with sorrow, and being in an agony prayed the more earnestly, and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood; and may be applied to his members, as it often is their case to be in distress, straits and difficulties, through outward afflictions and pressures, inward corruptions, temptations, and desertions, and through the low exercise of grace; when they are as it were imprisoned, and so straitened they cannot come forth in the free exercise of it; at all which seasons prayer is necessary; and nothing is more proper than to call upon the Lord, which is both duty and privilege, and often attended with success, as follows;

the Lord answered me, and set me in a large place; as he did David, when he delivered him from all his troubles, placed him on the throne of Israel, and gave him rest from all his enemies round about; see Psalm 31:8. And so he did the Messiah, when he raised him from the dead, received him to heaven, where he sits at the right of God in human nature: this is a large place indeed, large enough for the innumerable company of angels, and for all the saints, for whom everlasting habitations and mansions of bliss are preparing by him; and which is the glories liberty of the children of God; see Psalm 18:19; and these also, upon calling on the Lord in distress, are heard and answered, and brought into large places, where they walk at liberty; so at first conversion, when distressed about their souls, and cry for help, they are answered and brought out of the pit, and have their feet set upon a rock and their goings established; and when at other times their grace is drawn forth into exercise, their souls are enlarged in duty, are favoured with large views of the love of God, with an increase of spiritual light, knowledge, peace, and joy; and are delivered from their troubles, and out of the hands of their enemies. Or it may be rendered, "the Lord answered me largely" (r); as he did Solomon, when he gave him more than he asked for; and as he does his people, when he gives them a sufficiency, and an abundance of his grace, and even not only above their deserts, but above their thoughts and expectations; see Ephesians 3:20.

(q) "ex ipso angore", Junius & Tremellius; "ex illa angustia", Michaelis. (r) "in latitudine", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Munster, Musculus, Cocceius, Michaelis.

I called upon the LORD in {b} distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place.

(b) We are here taught that the more that troubles oppress us, the more ought we to be instant in prayer.

5. Out of the straitness in which I was I called upon Jah:

Jah answered me (and set me) in a wide place.

Israel had been hemmed in and harassed by enemies (Nehemiah 4:7 ff.): they prayed (Nehemiah 4:9), and were set free to move and act without let or hindrance. Cp. Psalm 18:19; Psalm 31:8. The name Jah is perhaps chosen here and in Psalm 118:14; Psalm 118:17-19, in order to recall the memories of the Exodus. See Psalm 118:14[76].

[76] The A.V. and R.V. follow the Eastern or Babylonian reading in repeating Jah in the second line. The Massora, according to the Western or Palestinian recension, makes the syllable jah simply the termination of the preceding word.

5–9. Israel speaks as one man; acknowledging that it is Jehovah Who has delivered them. With Him as their ally they have nothing to fear.Verse 5. - I called upon the Lord in distress; literally, from the strait place; i.e. from the straits in which I was. It is generally agreed that the Babylonian captivity is intended. The nation had called to God in its distress by the mouth of Daniel (Daniel 9:4-19) and of other holy men. The Lord answered me, and set me in a large place; literally, the Lord answered me on the open plain. The idea is, "The Lord gave me enlargement" - took me out of my straits - "set my feet in a large room" (Psalm 31:8). The thanksgiving Psalm ending in Hallelujah is followed by this shortest of all the Psalms, a Hallelujah addressed to the heathen world. In its very brevity it is one of the grandest witnesses of the might with which, in the midst of the Old Testament, the world-wide mission of the religion of revelation struck against or undermined the national limitation. It is stamped by the apostle in Romans 15:11 as a locus classicus for the fore-ordained (gnadenrathschlussmssig) participation of the heathen in the promised salvation of Israel.

Even this shortest Psalm has its peculiarities in point of language. אמּים (Aramaic אמיּא, Arabic umam) is otherwise alien to Old Testament Hebrew. The Old Testament Hebrew is acquainted only with אמּות as an appellation of Ismaelitish of Midianitish tribes. כּל־גּוים are, as in Psalm 72:11, Psalm 72:17, all peoples without distinction, and כּל־האמּים all nations without exception. The call is confirmed from the might of the mercy or loving-kindness of Jahve, which proves itself mighty over Israel, i.e., by its intensity and fulness superabundantly covering (גּבר as in Psalm 103:11; cf. ὑπερεπερίσσευσε, Romans 5:20, ὑπερεπλεόνασε, 1 Timothy 1:14) human sin and infirmity; and from His truth, by virtue of which history on into eternity ends in a verifying of His promises. Mercy and truth are the two divine powers which shall one day be perfectly developed and displayed in Israel, and going forth from Israel, shall conquer the world.

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