I will bless the LORD, who has given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Given me counsel . . .—i.e., led me to a right and happy choice of the way of life.
My reins—i.e., my heart.
Instruct me.—Better, warn me. Conscience echoes the voice of God. The Hebrew word, from a root meaning bind, includes the sense of obligation. Once heard, the Divine monition becomes a law to the good man, and his own heart warns him of the slightest danger of deviation from it.Psalm 16:7. I will bless the Lord who hath given me counsel — The Hebrew,
יעצני, jegnatzani, may be rendered, hath consulted for me, that is, by his wise and gracious counsel hath provided so good a heritage for me: or, who hath inspired that counsel and wisdom into me by which I have chosen him for my portion and happiness, and am so fully satisfied with him. So ignorant and foolish are we, that, if we be left to ourselves, our hearts will follow our eyes, and we shall choose our own delusions, and forsake our own mercies, for lying vanities: and, therefore, if we have indeed taken God for our portion, and preferred spiritual and eternal blessings before those that are sensible and temporal, we must thankfully acknowledge the power and goodness of divine grace, directing and enabling us to make that choice. My reins also — That is, my inward thoughts and affections (which are commonly signified by the reins, Psalm 7:9; Psalm 26:2; Jeremiah 11:20; Jeremiah 12:2; Jeremiah 17:10) being inspired and moved by the Holy Spirit; instruct me — Admonish me concerning my duty and happiness, direct me what course to take, how to please and glorify God, and to put my whole trust in, and live to him; in the night seasons — Even when others are asleep my mind is employed about God and things divine, and engaged to improve the silence and solitude of the night in holy meditation, prayer, and devotion. All this may be applied to Christ, who made the Lord his portion, and was pleased with that portion; made his Father’s glory his highest end, and made it his meat and drink to seek that, and to do his will, and delighted to prosecute his undertaking, pursuant to his Father’s counsel, depending upon him to maintain his lot, and carry him through his undertaking. And we ought so far to apply it to ourselves as to learn from it wherein our duty and happiness consist, and to examine ourselves by it, whether we are properly influenced by such discoveries, and act accordingly.
My reins ... - See the notes at Psalm 7:9. The "reins" are here put for the mind, the soul. They were regarded as the seat of the affections, Jeremiah 11:20; Job 19:27. The meaning here is, that in the wakeful hours of night, when meditating on the divine character and goodness, he found instruction in regard to God. Compare Psalm 17:3. Everything then is favorable for reflection. The natural calmness and composure of the mind; the stillness of night; the starry heavens; the consciousness that we are alone with God, and that no human eye is upon us - all these things are favorable to profound religious meditation. They who are kept wakeful by night "need" not find this an unprofitable portion of their lives. Some of the most instructive hours of life are those which are spent when the eyes refuse to close themselves in slumber, and when the universal stillness invites to contemplation on divine things.
my reins—the supposed seat of emotion and thought (Ps 7:9; 26:2).
instruct me—or, excite to acts of praise (Isa 53:11, 12; Heb 12:2).Who hath given me counsel, Heb. consulted for me, i.e. by his wise and gracious counsel hath provided so good an heritage for me, and withal inspired that counsel and wisdom into me, by which I have chosen the Lord for my portion, and am so fully satisfied with him.
My reins, i.e. my inward thoughts and affections, (which are commonly signified by the reins, as Psalm 7:9 26:2 73:21 139:13 Jeremiah 11:20 12:2 17:10) being inspired and moved by the Holy Spirit.
Instruct me, i. e. direct me what course to take, how to please and serve God, and to put my whole trust and confidence in him, as it follows.
In the night seasons; not only in the day time, but also in the night, when others are asleep, but my mind is working upon God, and the things of God, and improving the silence, and leisure, and solitude of the night to holy meditations, and the exciting of my affections towards God. Matthew 11:25; and here he determines to praise the Lord, and give thanks to him for counsel and instruction:
who hath given me counsel; for though he himself is the Counsellor, with respect to his people, yet as man he received counsel from God, and the spirit of counsel rested on him, Isaiah 11:2; and fitted him for and directed him in the execution of his prophetic office; for the doctrine he taught was not his own, but his Father's; and he said nothing of himself but what his Father taught him, and instructed him to speak, John 6:16. And he also gave him counsel about the execution of his priestly office, or about his sufferings and death, and drinking of the cup, which he, with submission to the divine will, desired might pass from him; but having advice in this matter, most cheerfully and courageously yielded to take it, see Matthew 26:39;
my reins also instruct me in the night seasons; when engaged in prayer to God, in which he sometimes continued a whole night together, Luke 6:12; and especially in that dark and dismal night in which he was betrayed, when it was the hour and power of darkness with his enemies; then, his inward parts being influenced by the spirit of wisdom and counsel, directed him how to behave and conduct himself. Or "the reins" being the seat of the affections, and being put for them, may signify, that his strong affection for God, and love to his people, put him upon and moved him to take the steps he did, to deliver up himself into the hands of sinful men, in order to suffer and die for his friends, and obtain eternal salvation for them.I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)7. given me counsel] Taught me to choose Him and to follow Him. Cp. Psalm 32:8 (R.V.); Psalm 73:24.
my reins also &c.] This clause may be taken as still depending on I will bless the Lord, and rendered, yea, that in the night seasons my reins have instructed me. In the quiet hours of the night God admonishes and instructs him through the voice of conscience. Cp. Psalm 4:4; Psalm 17:3. The reins stand for the organs of emotion, the feelings and conscience. ‘Heart and reins’ denote the whole innermost self, thought and will (Psalm 7:9).
7, 8. The mutual relation of the Psalmist and Jehovah.Verse 7. - I will bless the Lord, who hath given his counsel. God has become David's "Counsellor" (see Psalm 32:8), makes suggestions to him which he follows, and so guides his life that he feels bound to praise and bless him for it. My reins also instruct me in the night seasons. The reins, according to Hebrew ideas, are the seat of feeling and emotion. David is "instructed" or "stimulated" (Hengstenberg) to bless God by the feelings which stir within him as he lies awake at night - feelings, we must suppose, of affection and gratitude. Psalm 16:10 : May God preserve him (which He is able to do as being אל, the Almighty, able to do all things), who has no other refuge in which he has hidden and will hide but Him. This short introit is excepted from the parallelism; so far therefore it is monostichic, - a sigh expressing everything in few words. And the emphatic pronunciation שׁמרני shāmereni harmonises with it; for it is to be read thus, just as in Psalm 86:2; Psalm 119:167 shāmerah (cf. on Isaiah 38:14 עשׁקה), according to the express testimony of the Masora.
(Note: The Masora observes גרשין בספרא ב, i.e., twice in the Psalter שׁמרה is in the imperative, the o being displaced by Gaja (Metheg) and changed into aa, vid., Baer, Torath Emeth p. 22f. In spite of this the grammarians are not agreed as to the pronunciation of the imperative and infinitive forms when so pointed. Luzzatto, like Lonzano, reads it shŏmereni.)
The text of the next two verses (so it appears) needs to be improved in two respects. The reading אמרתּ as addressed to the soul (Targ.), cf. Lamentations 3:24., is opposed by the absence of any mention of the thing addressed. It rests upon a misconception of the defective form of writing, אמרתּ (Ges. 44, rem. 4). Hitzig and Ewald (190, d) suppose that in such cases a rejection of the final vowel, which really occurs in the language of the people, after the manner of the Aramaic (אמרת or אמרת), lies at the bottom of the form. And it does really seem as though the frequent occurrence of this defective form (ידעת equals ידעתי Psalm 140:13; Job 42:2, בנית equals בניתי 1 Kings 8:48, עשׂית equals עשׂיתי Ezekiel 16:59, cf. 2 Kings 18:20, אמרת now pointed אמרת, with Isaiah 36:5) has its occasion at least in some such cutting away of the i, peculiar to the language of the common people; although, if David wrote it so, אמרת is not intended to be read otherwise than it is in Psalm 31:15; Psalm 140:7.
(Note: Pinsker's view (Einleit. S. 100-102), who considers פּעלתּ to have sprung from פּללת as the primary form of the 1 pers. sing., from which then came פּלתּי and later still פּלתּי, is untenable according to the history of the language.)
First of all David gives expression to his confession of Jahve, to whom he submits himself unconditionally, and whom he sets above everything else without exception. Since the suffix of אדני (properly domini mei equals domine mi, Genesis 18:3, cf. Psalm 19:2), which has become mostly lost sight of in the usage of the language, now and then retains its original meaning, as it does indisputably in Psalm 35:23, it is certainly to be rendered also here: "Thou art my Lord" and not "Thou art the Lord." The emphasis lies expressly on the "my." It is the unreserved and joyous feeling of dependence (more that of the little child, than of the servant), which is expressed in this first confession. For, as the second clause of the confession says: Jahve, who is his Lord, is also his benefactor, yea even his highest good. The preposition על frequently introduces that which extends beyond something else, Genesis 48:22 (cf. Psalm 89:8; Psalm 95:3), and to this passage may be added Genesis 31:50; Genesis 32:12; Exodus 35:22; Numbers 31:8; Deuteronomy 19:9; Deuteronomy 22:6, the one thing being above, or co-ordinate with, the other. So also here: "my good, i.e., whatever makes me truly happy, is not above Thee," i.e., in addition to Thee, beside Thee; according to the sense it is equivalent to out of Thee or without Thee (as the Targ., Symm., and Jerome render it), Thou alone, without exception, art my good. In connection with this rendering of the על, the בּל (poetic, and contracted from בּלי), which is unknown to the literature before David's time, presents no difficulty. As in Proverbs 23:7 it is short for בּל־תּהיה. Hengstenberg remarks, "Just as Thou art the Lord! is the response of the soul to the words I am the Lord thy God (Exodus 20:2), so Thou only art my salvation! is the response to Thou shalt have no other gods beside Me (על־פּני)." The psalmist knows no fountain of true happiness but Jahve, in Him he possesses all, his treasure is in Heaven.
Such is his confession to Jahve. But he also has those on earth to whom he makes confession. Transposing the w we read:
ולקדושׁים אשׁר בּארץ
המּה אדּירי כל־חפצי־בם׃
While Diestel's alteration: "to the saints, who are in his land, he makes himself glorious, and all his delight is in them," is altogether strange to this verse: the above transfer of the Waw
(Note: Approved by Kamphausen and by the critic in the Liter. Blatt of the Allgem. Kirchen-Zeitung 1864 S. 107.)
suffices to remove its difficulties, and that in a way quite in accordance with the connection. Now it is clear, that לקדושׁים, as has been supposed by some, is the dative governed by אמרתּי, the influence of which is thus carried forward; it is clear what is meant by the addition אשׁר בארץ, which distinguishes the object of his affection here below from the One above, who is incomparably the highest; it is clear, as to what המּה defines, whereas otherwise this purely descriptive relative clause אשׁר בּארץ המּה (which von Ortenberg transposes into אשׁר ארצה בהמּה) appears to be useless and surprises one both on account of its redundancy (since המה is superfluous, cf. e.g., 2 Samuel 7:9; 2 Samuel 2:18) and on account of its arrangement of the words (an arrangement, which is usual in connection with a negative construction, Deuteronomy 20:15; 2 Chronicles 8:7, cf. Genesis 9:3; Ezekiel 12:10); it is clear, in what sense אדירי alternates with קדושׁים, since it is not those who are accounted by the world as אדיריס on account of their worldly power and possessions (Psalm 136:18, 2 Chronicles 23:20), but the holy, prized by him as being also glorious, partakers of higher glory and worthy of higher honour; and moreover, this corrected arrangement of the verse harmonises with the Michtam character of the Psalm. The thought thus obtained, is the thought one expected (love to God and love to His saints), and the one which one is also obliged to wring from the text as we have it, either by translating with De Welte, Maurer, Dietrich and others: "the saints who are in the land, they are the excellent in whom I have all my delight," - a Waw apodoseos, with which one could only be satisfied if it were והמּה (cf. 2 Samuel 15:34) - or: "the saints who are in the land and the glorious-all my delight is in them." By both these interpretations, ל would be the exponent of the nom. absol. which is elsewhere detached and placed at the beginning of a sentence, and this l of reference (Ew. 310, a) is really common to every style (Numbers 18:8; Isaiah 32:1; Ecclesiastes 9:4); whereas the ל understood of the fellowship in which he stands when thus making confession to Jahve: associating myself with the saints (Hengst.), with (von Lengerke), among the saints (Hupf., Thenius), would be a preposition most liable to be misapprehended, and makes Psalm 16:3 a cumbersome appendage of Psalm 16:2. But if l be taken as the Lamed of reference then the elliptical construct ואדּירי, to which הארץ ought to be supplied, remains a stumbling-block not to be easily set aside. For such an isolation of the connecting form from its genitive cannot be shown to be syntactically possible in Hebrew (vid., on 2 Kings 9:17, Thenius, and Keil); nor are we compelled to suppose in this instance what cannot be proved elsewhere, since כל־חפצי־בם is, without any harshness, subordinate to ואדירי as a genitival notion (Ges. 116, 3). And still in connection with the reading ואדירי, both the formation of the sentence which, beginning with ל, leads one to expect an apodosis, and the relation of Psalm 16:3 to Psalm 16:2, according to which the central point of the declaration must lie just within כל־חפצי־בם, are opposed to this rendering of the words ואדירי כל־חפצי־כם.
Thus, therefore, we come back to the above easy improvement of the text. קושׁים are those in whom the will of Jahve concerning Israel, that it should be a holy nation (Exodus 19:6; Deuteronomy 7:6), has been fulfilled, viz., the living members of the ecclesia sanctorum in this world (for there is also one in the other world, Psalm 89:6). Glory, δόξα, is the outward manifestation of holiness. It is ordained of God for the sanctified (cf. Romans 8:30), whose moral nobility is now for the present veiled under the menial form of the עני; and in the eyes of David they already possess it. His spiritual vision pierces through the outward form of the servant. His verdict is like the verdict of God, who is his all in all. The saints, and they only, are the excellent to him. His whole delight is centred in them, all his respect and affection is given to them. The congregation of the saints is his Chephzibah, Isaiah 62:4 (cf. 2 Kings 21:1).
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