Psalm 18:23
I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from my iniquity.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
18:20-28 Those that forsake the ways of the Lord, depart from their God. But though conscious to ourselves of many a false step, let there not be a wicked departure from our God. David kept his eye upon the rule of God's commands. Constant care to keep from that sin, whatever it be, which most easily besets us, proves that we are upright before God. Those who show mercy to others, even they need mercy. Those who are faithful to God, shall find him all that to them which he has promised to be. The words of the Lord are pure words, very sure to be depended on, and very sweet to be delighted in. Those who resist God, and walk contrary to him, shall find that he will walk contrary to them, Le 26:21-24. The gracious recompence of which David spoke, may generally be expected by those who act from right motives. Hence he speaks comfort to the humble, and terror to the proud; Thou wilt bring down high looks. And he speaks encouragement to himself; Thou wilt light my candle: thou wilt revive and comfort my sorrowful spirit; thou wilt guide my way, that I may avoid the snares laid for me. Thou wilt light my candle to work by, and give me an opportunity of serving thee. Let those that walk in darkness, and labour under discouragements, take courage; God himself will be a Light to them.I was also upright before him - Margin, with. The meaning is that he was upright in his sight. The word rendered upright is the same which in Job 1:1 is rendered perfect. See the note at that passage.

And I kept myself from mine iniquity - From the iniquity to which I was prone or inclined. This is an acknowledgment that he was prone to sin, or that if he had acted out his natural character he would have indulged in sin - perhaps such sins as had been charged upon him. But he here says that, with this natural proneness to sin, he had restrained himself, and had not been deserving of the treatment which he had received. This is one of those incidental remarks which often occur in the Scriptures which recognize the doctrine of depravity, or the fact that the heart, even when most restrained, is by nature inclined to sin. If this psalm was composed in the latter part of the life of David (see the introduction), then this must mean either

(a) that in the review of his life he felt it had been his general and habitual aim to check his natural inclination to sin; or

(b) that at the particular periods referred to in the psalm, when God had so wonderfully interposed in his behalf, he felt that this had been his aim, and that he might now regard that as a reason why God had interposed in his behalf.

It is, however, painfully certain that at some periods of his life - as in the matter of Uriah - he did give indulgence to some of the most corrupt inclinations of the human heart, and that, in acting out these corrupt propensities, he was guilty of crimes which have forever dimmed the luster of his name and stained his memory. These painful facts, however, are not inconsistent with the statement that in his general character he did restrain these corrupt propensities, and did "keep himself from his iniquity" So, in the review of our own lives, if we are truly the friends of God, while we may be painfully conscious that we have often given indulgence to the corrupt propensities of our natures - over which, if we are truly the children of God, we shall have repented - we may still find evidence that, as the great and habitual rule of life, we have restrained those passions, and have "kept ourselves" from the particular forms of sin to which our hearts were prone.

23. upright before him—In my relation to God I have been perfect as to all parts of His law. The perfection does not relate to degree.

mine iniquity—perhaps the thought of his heart to kill Saul (1Sa 24:6). That David does not allude to all his conduct, in all relations, is evident from Ps 51:1, &c.

I did not pretend religion before men for my own ends, but did approve my heart and ways to the all-seeing God.

And I kept myself from mine iniquity, i e. from that sin which I was most inclined or tempted to; either,

1. From my hereditary and natural corruption, so far that it should not have dominion over me, nor break forth into any presumptuous or scandalous sins. Or rather,

2. From the sin of killing Saul, which might be called his sin, because this might seem most agreeable and desirable to him, both as a man and as a soldier, and as anointed to be king, as being a likely way both to revenge, and to preserve, and to advance himself; to which also he might seem to be both invited by the fair opportunity which Providence had put into his hand, 1 Samuel 24:4 26:8, and necessitated by Saul’s implacable malice, and his own perpetual and extreme dangers and distresses; and to which he was so strongly tempted by his own followers, in the place now quoted. I was also upright before him,.... In heart and conversation, being sincere and faithful; so David was in the sight of God; but this is much more true of Christ, in whom there was no unrighteousness nor guile, neither in his heart, nor in his lips; he was of perfect integrity, and faithful in all things to him that appointed him;

and I kept myself from mine iniquity; which some interpret of original sin, in which David was born, which dwelt in him, and prompted him to sin; but rather it refers to the taking away of Saul's life, which he might be tempted to do, as being his enemy that sought his life; and which he was put upon and urged to by some about him, and yet did it not. But it is best here also to apply these words to Christ; for though he had no iniquity of his own, yet he had the iniquities of his people on him, as their surety, and which he calls "mine", Psalm 40:12. But though he bore them, he did not commit any of them; though he was made sin, he knew none; and though he was tempted by Satan to the most enormous iniquities, as destroying himself and worshipping the devil, he kept himself from the evil one, that he could not touch him: the sense is, that he kept himself from committing any sin, which cannot be said of any mere man; and so far as good men are kept from sin, they are kept by the power of God, and not by themselves. All these things show, that the righteousness of Christ was a perfect, sinless one, entirely agreeable to the laws, statutes, and judgments of God; was pure in the sight of God, and rewardable in strict justice. Hence it is repeated as follows:

I was also upright before him, and I kept myself from mine {f} iniquity.

(f) I neither gave place to their wicked temptations nor to my own desires.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
23. upright before him] R.V., perfect with him, living in the fellowship of a sincere devotion. See note on Psalm 15:2.

I kept myself from mine iniquity] I have watched over myself that I might not transgress, lest I should cherish any sin till it became a part of me. There is no reference to indwelling corruption or a besetting sin.Verse 23. - I was also upright before him (compare what is said of David in 1 Kings 11:4; 1 Kings 14:8; 1 Kings 15:5). Like Job, he was "perfect and upright " - " one that feared God, and eschewed evil" (Job 1:1). And I kept myself from mine iniquity; i.e. from the sin to which I was especially tempted." (Kay compares the αὐπερίστατος ἁμαρτία of Hebrews 12:1.) But what sin this was, we have no means of determining. All that appears is that David had an inclination to some particular form of sin, against which he found it necessary to be continually upon his guard. (Heb.: 18:17-20) Then Jahve stretches out His hand from above into the deep chasm and draws up the sinking one. The verb שׁלח occurs also in prose (2 Samuel 6:6) without יד (Psalm 57:4, cf. on the other hand the borrowed passage, Psalm 144:7) in the signification to reach (after anything). The verb משׁה, however, is only found in one other instance, viz., Exodus 2:10, as the root (transferred from the Egyptian into the Hebrew) of the name of Moses, and even Luther saw in it an historical allusion, "He hath made a Moses of me," He hath drawn me out of great (many) waters, which had well nigh swallowed me up, as He did Moses out of the waters of the Nile, in which he would have perished. This figurative language is followed, in Psalm 18:18, by its interpretation, just as in Psalm 144:7 the "great waters" are explained by מיּד בּני נכר, which, however, is not suitable here, or at least is too limited.

With Psalm 18:17 the hymn has reached the climax of epic description, from which it now descends in a tone that becomes more and more lyrical. In the combination איבי עז, עז is not an adverbial accusative, but an adjective, like רוּחך טובה Psalm 143:10, and ὁ ἀνὴρ ἀγαθός (Hebrerbrief S. 353). כּי introduces the reason for the interposition of the divine omnipotence, viz., the superior strength of the foe and the weakness of the oppressed one. On the day of his איד, i.e., (vid., on Psalm 31:12) his load or calamity, when he was altogether a homeless and almost defenceless fugitive, they came upon him (קדּם Psalm 17:13), cutting off all possible means of delivering himself, but Jahve became the fugitive's staff (Psalm 23:4) upon which he leaned and kept himself erect. By the hand of God, out of straits and difficulties he reached a broad place, out of the dungeon of oppression to freedom, for Jahve had delighted in him, he was His chosen and beloved one. חפץ has the accent on the penult here, and Metheg as a sign of the lengthening (העמדה) beside the ē, that it may not be read ĕ.

(Note: In like manner Metheg is placed beside the ee of the final closed syllable that has lost the tone in חפץ Psalm 22:9, ותּחולל Psalm 90:2, vid., Isaiah S. 594 note.)

The following strophe tells the reason of his pleasing God and of His not allowing him to perish. This כּי חפץ בּי (for He delighted in me) now becomes the primary thought of the song.

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