Psalm 31:21
Blessed be the LORD: for he hath shewed me his marvellous kindness in a strong city.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) Shewed me his marvellous kindness . . .—Better, made his kindness distinguished or manifest, referring to Psalm 31:19.

In a strong city.—Some see a reference to David’s adventures at Ziklag or Keilah; others to Jeremiah’s in Jerusalem (Jeremiah 38). It is, however, better to regard it merely as a general image of the Divine protection.

Psalm 31:21-22. He hath showed me marvellous kindness in a strong city —

Namely, in Keilah, where God had wonderfully preserved him; of which see 1 Samuel 23:7. Or, as in a strong city. He hath kept me as safe in woods and caves as if I had been in a fenced city. I said in my haste — In my hasty flight from Saul, when he and his men had almost encompassed me, 1 Samuel 23:26. This happened presently after his deliverance in and from the strong city of Keilah. Or the Hebrew, בחפזי, bechaphzi, may be rendered, in my fear, or trembling, when my passion took away my consideration, and weakened my faith. I am cut off from before thine eyes — That is, cast out of thy sight, and out of the care of thy gracious providence; my case is desperate: or cut off while thou lookest on, and dost not pity nor help me. Nevertheless, thou heardest, &c. — My fears were quickly confuted by thy gracious answer to my prayers.

31:19-24 Instead of yielding to impatience or despondency under our troubles, we should turn our thoughts to the goodness of the Lord towards those who fear and trust in Him. All comes to sinners through the wondrous gift of the only-begotten Son of God, to be the atonement for their sins. Let not any yield to unbelief, or think, under discouraging circumstances, that they are cut off from before the eyes of the Lord, and left to the pride of men. Lord, pardon our complaints and fears; increase our faith, patience, love, and gratitude; teach us to rejoice in tribulation and in hope. The deliverance of Christ, with the destruction of his enemies, ought to strengthen and comfort the hearts of believers under all their afflictions here below, that having suffered courageously with their Master, they may triumphantly enter into his joy and glory.Blessed be the Lord - An expression of thanksgiving for the evidence that God had heard him in his troubles, and had answered him.

For he hath showed me his marvelous kindness - literally, "He has made his mercy wonderful;" that is, he has showed me such mercy as to be an object of admiration and astonishment. It was not ordinary kindness, such as is shown to people every day; it was so uncommon - so far beyond all expectation - so separate from second causes and the agency of man - so marked in its character - as to fill the mind with wonder.

In a strong city - Margin, "fenced city." This may mean either that he had thus placed him literally in a strongly fortified city where he was safe from the fear of his enemies; or, that he had interposed in his behalf, and had given him protection as if he had brought him into such a strongly fortified place. Jarchi supposes that the city of "Keilah" 1 Samuel 23:7 is here intended. But this is improbable. All that the passage necessarily implies is, that God had given him protection as if he had been placed in a strongly fortified town where he would be safe from danger.

20. the secret of thy presence—or, covering of Thy countenance; the protection He thus affords; compare Ps 27:5 for a similar figure; "dwelling" used there for "presence" here. The idea of security further presented by the figure of a tent and a fortified city [Ps 31:21]. To wit, in Keilah; where God wonderfully preserved me; of which see 1 Samuel 23:7. Others, as

in a strong city. He hath kept me as safe in woods and caves, as if I had been in a fenced city.

Blessed be the Lord,.... A form of thanksgiving, in which the psalmist calls upon himself and others to bless and praise the Lord for the singular mercy granted him, expressed in the next clause; See Gill on Psalm 18:46;

for he hath showed me his marvellous kindness in a strong city; either in the city Keilah, so Jarchi; a city which had gates and bars, where Saul thought he had David safe, and he could not escape his hands; but notwithstanding that, and though the inhabitants of that place intended to deliver him up, yet he was marvellously saved; as he also was from the Ziphites; and when Saul and his army had encompassed him about, by a surprising incident, a messenger coming to Saul just as he was about to seize him, informing him that the Philistines had invaded the land, 1 Samuel 23:7. Or the city of Jerusalem, which was fortified both by nature and art, whither he was brought and placed as king, and enjoyed rest from all his enemies round about him, 2 Samuel 5:6. Or this may spiritually design the church of God, which is called a strong city, being built on Christ the Rock, and having salvation for walls and bulwarks, Isaiah 26:1, where the Lord displays his banner of love, makes discoveries of his marvellous kindness, and commands his blessing for evermore. Some render it "as in a strong city" (g), and take the sense to be, that he was safe, through the kindness of God showed to him in the salvation of him, as if he was in a fortified city (h), and this was marvellous in his eyes, as every instance of providential goodness is to the people of God; especially his lovingkindness showed in spiritual things, in choosing them in Christ, saving them by him, regenerating them by his Spirit, and taking them into his family; which love is free and sovereign, distinguishing, unchangeable, from everlasting to everlasting; and so wonderful and astonishing; and which was hid in God until revealed; and sometimes the manifestations of it are withdrawn, and then it is showed again, and fresh discoveries of it are made, and effects of it applied, and the blessings of it bestowed, which occasion thankfulness.

(g) "ut in civitate munita", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; Michaelis. (h) Aben Ezra, Kimchi, & Ben Melech in loc.

Blessed be the LORD: for he hath shewed me his marvellous kindness in a {p} strong city.

(p) Meaning, there was no city strong enough to preserve him, as the defence of God's favour.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21. Blessed be the Lord] Cp. Psalm 28:6.

he hath shewed me his marvellous kindness] Lit. he hath made marvellous his lovingkindness to me, as in Psalm 17:7.

in a strong city] Either, as in a strong city, putting me out of the reach of my enemies as it were in a fortified city; or, as a strong city, proving Himself my fortress (Psalm 31:2-3). The words may also mean in a besieged city, which might be taken as a metaphor for trouble generally. Some commentators understand the words literally of David’s escape from Keilah, or of his establishment in Ziklag; or of Jeremiah in Jerusalem during the siege.

21, 22. Thanksgiving: but is it for deliverance anticipated by faith or for deliverance already experienced? Surely the latter.

Verse 21. - Blessed be the Lord: for he hath showed me his marvellous kindness in a strong city. The "strong city" has been explained as Ziklag (Delitzsch), or Maha-naim (2 Samuel 17:24), but is probably as much a figure of speech as the "pavilion" of ver. 20. God has showed David his marvellous loving-kindness by giving him an assurance of absolute security. Psalm 31:21(Heb.: 31:20-25) In this part well-grounded hope expands to triumphant certainty; and this breaks forth into grateful praise of the goodness of God to His own, and an exhortation to all to wait with steadfast faith on Jahve. The thought: how gracious hath Jahve been to me, takes a more universal form in Psalm 31:20. It is an exclamation (מה, as in Psalm 36:8) of adoring admiration. טוּב יהוה is the sum of the good which God has treasured up for the constant and ever increasing use and enjoyment of His saints. צפן is used in the same sense as in Psalm 17:14; cf. τὸ μάννα τὸ κεκρυμμένον, Revelation 2:17. Instead of פּעלתּ it ought strictly to be נתתּ; for we can say פּעל טּוב, but not פּעל טוּב. What is meant is, the doing or manifesting of טּוב springing from this טוּב, which is the treasure of grace. Jahve thus makes Himself known to His saints for the confounding of their enemies and in defiance of all the world besides, Psalm 23:5. He takes those who are His under His protection from the רכסי אישׁ, confederations of men (from רכס, Arab. rks, magna copia), from the wrangling, i.e., the slanderous scourging, of tongues. Elsewhere it is said, that God hides one in סתר אהלו (Psalm 27:5), or in סתר כּנפיו (Psalm 61:5), or in His shadow (צל, Psalm 91:1); in this passage it is: in the defence and protection of His countenance, i.e., in the region of the unapproachable light that emanates from His presence. The סכּה is the safe and comfortable protection of the Almighty which spans over the persecuted one like an arbour or rich foliage. With בּרוּך ה David again passes over to his own personal experience. The unity of the Psalm requires us to refer the praise to the fact of the deliverance which is anticipated by faith. Jahve has shown him wondrous favour, inasmuch as He has given him a עיר מצור as a place of abode. מצור, from צוּר to shut in (Arabic misr with the denominative verb maṣṣara, to found a fortified city), signifies both a siege, i.e., a shutting in by siege-works, and a fortifying (cf. Psalm 60:11 with Psalm 108:11), i.e., a shutting in by fortified works against the attack of the enemy, 2 Chronicles 8:5. The fenced city is mostly interpreted as God Himself and His powerful and gracious protection. We might then compare Isaiah 33:21 and other passages. But why may not an actual city be intended, viz., Ziklag? The fact, that after long and troublous days David there found a strong and sure resting-place, he here celebrates beforehand, and unconsciously prophetically, as a wondrous token of divine favour. To him Ziklag was indeed the turning-point between his degradation and exaltation. He had already said in his trepidation (חפז, trepidare), cf. Psalm 116:11 : I am cut away from the range of Thine eyes. נגרזתּי is explained according to גּרזן, an axe; Lamentations 3:54, נגרזתּי, and Jonah 2:5, נגרשׁתּי, favour this interpretation. He thought in his fear and despair, that God would never more care about him. אכן, verum enim vero, but Jahve heard the cry of his entreaty, when he cried unto Him (the same words as in Psalm 28:2). On the ground of these experiences he calls upon all the godly to love the God who has done such gracious things, i.e., to love Love itself. On the one hand, He preserves the faithful (אמוּנים, from אמוּן equals אמוּן, πιστοί, as in Psalm 12:2), who keep faith with Him, by also proving to them His faithfulness by protection in every danger; on the other hand, not scantily, but plentifully (על as in Isaiah 60:7; Jeremiah 6:14 : κατὰ περισσείαν) He rewardeth those that practise pride-in the sight of God, the Lord, the sin of sins. An animating appeal to the godly (metamorphosed out of the usual form of the expression חזק ואמץ, macte esto), resembling the animating call to his own heart in Psalm 27:14, closes the Psalm. The godly and faithful are here called "those who wait upon Jahve." They are to wait patiently, for this waiting has a glorious end; the bright, spring sun at length breaks through the dark, angry aspect of the heavens, and the esto mihi is changed into halleluja. This eye of hope patiently directed towards Jahve is the characteristic of the Old Testament faith. The substantial unity, however, of the Old Testament order of grace, or mercy, with that of the New Testament, is set before us in Psalm 32:1-11, which, in its New Testament and Pauline character, is the counterpart of Psalm 19:1-14.
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