Psalm 13:3
Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
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(3) Lighten.—Literally, give light to my eyes that I may not go to sleep in death, i.e., go to sleep and never wake; “sleep unto death,” as the LXX. (Comp. for the nature of the fear, Psalm 6:5; and for the form of expression, 1Samuel 14:27; 1Samuel 14:29.)

Psalm 13:3-5. Lighten mine eyes — Because I find my own counsels insufficient, do thou enlighten my mind, and guide me by thy counsel into the right way of obtaining thy merciful help. Or, he means, Do thou revive, and comfort, and deliver me from the darkness of death, which is ready to come upon me, and to close mine eyes. Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him — Namely, by my art or strength; which will reflect dishonour on thee, as if thou wert either unfaithful and unmindful of thy promises, or unable to fulfil them. Therefore prevent, or repress this their arrogance and blasphemy, and maintain thine own honour. I have trusted in thy mercy — Neither their threats and boastings, nor my own dangers, shall shake my confidence in thy mercy promised to me.

13:1-6 The psalmist complains that God had long withdrawn. He earnestly prays for comfort. He assures himself of an answer of peace. - God sometimes hides his face, and leaves his own children in the dark concerning their interest in him: and this they lay to heart more than any outward trouble whatever. But anxious cares are heavy burdens with which believers often load themselves more than they need. The bread of sorrows is sometimes the saint's daily bread; our Master himself was a man of sorrows. It is a common temptation, when trouble lasts long, to think that it will last always. Those who have long been without joy, begin to be without hope. We should never allow ourselves to make any complaints but what drive us to our knees. Nothing is more killing to a soul than the want of God's favour; nothing more reviving than the return of it. The sudden, delightful changes in the book of Psalms, are often very remarkable. We pass from depth of despondency to the height of religious confidence and joy. It is thus, ver. 5. All is gloomy dejection in ver. 4; but here the mind of the despondent worshipper rises above all its distressing fears, and throws itself, without reserve, on the mercy and care of its Divine Redeemer. See the power of faith, and how good it is to draw near to God. If we bring our cares and griefs to the throne of grace, and leave them there, we may go away like Hannah, and our countenances will be no more said, 1Sa 1:18. God's mercy is the support of the psalmist's faith. Finding I have that to trust to, I am comforted, though I have no merit of my own. His faith in God's mercy filled his heart with joy in his salvation; for joy and peace come by believing. He has dealt bountifully with me. By faith he was as confident of salvation, as if it had been completed already. In this way believers pour out their prayers, renouncing all hopes but in the mercy of God through the Saviour's blood: and sometimes suddenly, at others gradually, they will find their burdens removed, and their comforts restored; they then allow that their fears and complaints were unnecessary, and acknowledge that the Lord hath dealt bountifully with them.Consider and hear me - literally, "Look, hear me." God had seemed to avert his face as if he would not even look upon him Psalm 13:1; and the psalmist now prays that he "would" look upon him - that he would regard his wants - that he would attend to his cry. So we pray to one who turns away from us as if he were not disposed to hear, and as if he cared nothing about us.

Lighten mine eyes - The allusion here is, probably, to his exhaustion, arising from trouble and despair, as if he were about to die. The sight grows dim as death approaches; and he seemed to feel that death was near. He says that unless God should interpose, the darkness would deepen, and he must die. The prayer, therefore, that God would "enlighten his eyes," was a prayer that he would interpose and save him from that death which he felt was rapidly approaching.

Lest I sleep the sleep of death - literally, "Lest I sleep the death;" that is, "in" death, or, as in the common version, the sleep of death. The idea is, that death, whose approach was indicated by the dimness of vision, was fast stealing over him as a sleep, and that unless his clearness of vision were restored, it would soon end in the total darkness - the deep and profound sleep - of death. Death is often compared to sleep. See the note at 1 Corinthians 11:30; the note at John 11:11, John 11:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:14; Daniel 12:2. The resemblance between the two is so obvious as to have been remarked in all ages, and the comparison is found in the writings of all nations. It is only, however, in connection with Christianity that the idea has been fully carried out by the doctrine of the resurrection, for as we lie down at night with the hope of awaking to the pursuits and enjoyments of a new day, so the Christian lies down in death with the hope of awaking in the morning of the resurrection to the pursuits and enjoyments of a new and eternal day. Everywhere else death is, to the mind, a long and unbroken sleep. Compare Jeremiah 51:39, Jeremiah 51:57.

3. lighten mine eyes—dim with weakness, denoting approaching death (compare 1Sa 14:27-29; Ps 6:7; 38:10).3 Consider and hear me, O Lord my God lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;

4 Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved.

But now prayer lifteth up her voice, like the watchman who proclaims the daybreak. Now will the tide turn, and the weeper shall dry his eyes. The mercy-seat is the life of hope and the death of despair. The gloomy thought of God's having forsaken him is still upon the Psalmist's soul, and he therefore cries, "Consider and hear me." He remembers at once the root of his woe, and cries aloud that it may be removed. The final absence of God is Tophet's fire, and his temporary absence brings his people into the very suburbs of hell. God is here entreated to see and hear, that so he may be doubly moved to pity. What should we do if we had no God to turn to in the hour of wretchedness?

Note the cry of faith, "O Lord my God!" Is it not a very glorious fact that our interest in our God is not destroyed by all our trials and sorrows? We may lose our gourds, but not our God. The title-deed of heaven is not written in the sand, but in eternal brass.

"Lighten mine eyes:" that is, let the eye of my faith be clear, that I may see my God in the dark; let my eye of watchfulness be wide open, lest I be entrapped, and let the eye of my understanding be illuminated to see the right way. Perhaps, too, here is an allusion to that cheering of the spirits so frequently called the enlightening of the eyes because it causes the face to brighten, and the eyes to sparkle. Well may we use the prayer, "Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord!" for in many respects we need the Holy Spirit's illuminating rays. "Lest I sleep the sleep of death." Darkness engenders sleep, and despondency is not slow in making the eyes heavy. From this faintness and dimness of vision, caused by despair, there is but a step to the iron sleep of death. David feared that his trials would end his life, and he rightly uses his fear as an argument with God in prayer; for deep distress has in it a kind of claim upon compassion, not a claim of right, but a plea which has power with grace. Under the pressure of heart sorrow, the Psalmist does not look forward to the sleep of death with hope and joy, as assured believers do, but he shrinks from it with dread, from which we gather that bondage from fear of death is no new thing.

Another plea is urged in the fourth verse, and it is one which the tried believer may handle well when on his knees. We make use of our arch-enemy for once, and compel him, like Samson, to grind in our mill while we use his cruel arrogance as an argument in prayer. It is not the Lord's will that the great enemy of our souls should overcome his children. This would dishonour God, and cause the evil one to boast. It is well for us that our salvation and God's honour are so intimately connected, that they stand or fall together.

Our covenant God will complete the confusion of all our enemies, and if for awhile we become their scoff and jest, the day is coming when the shame will change sides, and the contempt shall be poured on those to whom it is due.

Lighten mine eyes; either,

1. Because I find my counsel insufficient, Psalm 13:2, do thou enlighten my mind, and guide me by thy counsel and Spirit into the right way of obtaining thy mercy and help. So this phrase is used Psalm 19:8 Ephesians 1:18. Or,

2. Do thou revive, and comfort, and deliver me from the darkness of death, which is ready to come upon me and to close mine eyes. Nothing is more common than to express great dangers and calamities by darkness, and great comforts and deliverances by light, as Job 15:22 17:13 30:26, and by an enlightening of the eyes, as Ezra 9:8. Compare Proverbs 15:30 29:13.

Lest I sleep the sleep of death, i.e. lest I sink under my burden and die; for death is oft called a sleep in Scripture, as Job 3:13 14:12 Psalm 76:5 John 11:11.

Consider and hear me, O Lord my God,.... The psalmist amidst all his distresses rightly applies to God by prayer, claims his interest in him as his covenant God, which still continued notwithstanding all his darkness, desertions, and afflictions; and entreats him to "consider" his affliction and trouble, and deliver him out of it; to consider his enemies, how many and mighty they were; and his own weakness his frame, that he was but dust, and unable to stand against them: or to "look" (u) upon his affliction, and upon him under it, with an eye of pity and compassion; to have respect to him and to his prayers, and to turn unto him, and lift up the light of his countenance upon him: and so this petition is opposed to the complaint in Psalm 13:1; and he further requests that he would "hear" him; that is, so as to answer him, and that immediately, and thereby show that he had not forgotten him, but was mindful of him, of his love to him, and covenant with him;

lighten mine eyes: meaning either the eyes of his body, which might be dim and dull through a failure of the animal spirits, by reason of inward grief, outward afflictions, or for want of bodily food; which when obtained refreshes nature, cheers the animal spirits, enlightens or gives a briskness to the eyes; see 1 Samuel 14:27; or else the eyes of his understanding, Ephesians 1:18; that he might behold wondrous things in the law of God, know the things which were freely given to him of God, see more clearly his interest in him, and in the covenant of his grace, and have his soul refreshed and comforted with the light of God's countenance; and he be better able to discern his enemies, and guard against them; and be directed to take the best method to be delivered and secured from them. The people of God are sometimes in the dark, and see no light; especially when benighted, and in sleepy frames; and it is God's work to enlighten and quicken them;

lest I sleep the sleep of death; a natural death (w), which is comparable to sleep, and often expressed by it; and which sense agrees with lightening the eyes of his body, as before explained; or rather the sense is, lift up the light of thy countenance, revive thy work in the midst of the years; let me see thy goodness in the land of the living, that I may not faint and sink and die away. Or it may be an eternal death is designed; for though true believers shall never die this death, yet they may be in such circumstances, as through unbelief to fear they shall. The Targum paraphrases the word thus;

"enlighten mine eyes in thy law, lest I sin, and sleep with those who are guilty of death.''

(u) "intuere", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "aspice", Pagninus, Montanus, Cocceius. (w) , Homer. Iliad. 11. v. 241. "ferreus somnus", Virgil. Aeneid. 10. v. 745, & 12. v. 309.

Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
3. Behold (Psalm 10:14), instead of hiding Thy face, answer me (Psalm 3:4) instead of forgetting my need.

Lighten mine eyes] Revive and quicken me. The eyes are the index of vital energy. They ‘waste away,’ they lose their light, they ‘are darkened,’ by sickness or sorrow (Psalm 6:7, Psalm 38:10; Lamentations 5:17). They are ‘enlightened’ when strength and spirits are restored (1 Samuel 14:27; 1 Samuel 14:29; Ezra 9:8). It is the light of God’s face, the illumination of His love and favour, which is the source of life (Psalm 4:6; Psalm 31:16; Psalm 36:9).

3, 4. A prayer, in calmer tone.

Verse 3. - Consider and hear me, O Lord my God (comp. Psalm 5:1; Psalm 9:13; Psalm 141:1, etc.). David will not allow himself to be "forgotten;" he will recall himself to God's remembrance. "Consider - hear me," he says, "O Lord my God;" still "my God," although thou hast forgotten me, and therefore bound to "hear me." Lighten mine eyes. Not so much "enlighten me spiritually," as "cheer me up; put brightness into my eyes; revive me" (comp. Ezra 9:8, "Grace hath been showed from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape... that our God may lighten out eyes, and give us a little reviving"). Lest I sleep the sleep of death; literally, lest I sleep death. Death is compared to a sleep by Job (Job 11:12), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 51:39, 57), Daniel (Daniel 12:2), and here by David, in the Old Testament; and by our Lord (John 11:11-13) and St. Paul in the New (1 Corinthians 11:30; 1 Corinthians 15:51; 1 Thessalonians 4:14, 15). The external resemblance of a corpse to a sleeping person was the root of the metaphor, and we shall do wrong to conclude from its employment anything with respect to the psalmist's views concerning the real nature of death. Psalm 13:3(Heb.: 13:4-5) In contrast to God's seeming to have forgotten him and to wish neither to see nor know anything of his need, he prays: הבּיטה (cf. Isaiah 63:15). In contrast to his being in perplexity what course to take and unable to help himself, he prays: ענני, answer me, who cry for help, viz., by the fulfilment of my prayer as a real, actual answer. In contrast to the triumphing of his foe: האירה עיני, in order that the triumph of his enemy may not be made complete by his dying. To lighten the eyes that are dimmed with sorrow and ready to break, is equivalent to, to impart new life (Ezra 9:8), which is reflected in the fresh clear brightness of the eye (1 Samuel 14:27, 1 Samuel 14:29). The lightening light, to which האיר points, is the light of love beaming from the divine countenance, Psalm 31:17. Light, love, and life are closely allied notions in the Scriptures. He, upon whom God looks down in love, continues in life, new powers of life are imparted to him, it is not his lot to sleep the death, i.e., the sleep of death, Jeremiah 51:39, Jeremiah 51:57, cf. Psalm 76:6. המּות is the accusative of effect or sequence: to sleep so that the sleep becomes death (lxx εἰς θάνατον), Ew. 281, e. Such is the light of life for which he prays, in order that his foe may not be able at last to say יכלתּיו (with accusative object, as in Jeremiah 38:5) equals יכלתּי לו, Psalm 129:2, Genesis 32:26, I am able for him, a match for him, I am superior to him, have gained the mastery over him. כּי, on account of the future which follows, had better be taken as temporal (quum) than as expressing the reason (quod), cf. בּמוט רגלי, Psalm 38:17.
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