Psalm 31:9
Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am in trouble: my eye is consumed with grief, yes, my soul and my belly.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) Mine eye is consumed . . .—Comp. Psalm 6:7. It was an old idea that the eye could weep itself away. It is an actual fact that the disease glaucoma is very much influenced by mental emotions.

Belly.—Better, body—both mind and body were suffering.

Psalm 31:9-10. Mine eye is consumed with grief — With continual weeping; yea, my soul — My sorrows are not counterfeit, or slight, but inward and penetrating: my mind is oppressed, my heart is ready to sink under my burden; and my belly — So the word בשׂני, bitai, signifies: but it evidently means here the whole body, especially the stomach and bowels, which were particularly affected by his trouble and grief. My life is spent — The time of my life, as the next clause explains it; with grief and my years with sighing — I cannot subsist long, except thou relievest me. My strength faileth — I am wasted away with sorrow; because of mine iniquity — Either, 1st, Through my deep and just sense of my sins, which have provoked God to afflict me in this manner; or, 2d, For the punishment of mine iniquity. And my bones are consumed — The juice and marrow of them being almost dried up with excessive grief.31:9-18 David's troubles made him a man of sorrows. Herein he was a type of Christ, who was acquainted with grief. David acknowledged that his afflictions were merited by his own sins, but Christ suffered for ours. David's friends durst not give him any assistance. Let us not think it strange if thus deserted, but make sure of a Friend in heaven who will not fail. God will be sure to order and dispose all for the best, to all those who commit their spirits also into his hand. The time of life is in God's hands, to lengthen or shorten, make bitter or sweet, according to the counsel of his will. The way of man is not in himself, nor in our friend's hands, nor in our enemies' hands, but in God's. In this faith and confidence he prays that the Lord would save him for his mercies's sake, and not for any merit of his own. He prophesies the silencing of those that reproach and speak evil of the people of God. There is a day coming, when the Lord will execute judgment upon them. In the mean time, we should engage ourselves by well-doing, if possible, to silence the ignorance of foolish men.Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am in trouble - The nature and sources of his trouble are specified in the verses following. He seems to have regarded all his trouble as the result of sin, either the sin of his heart, of which he alone was conscious, or of some open act of sin, that had been the means of bringing this affliction upon him, Psalm 31:10. As a consequence of this, he says that he was subjected to the reproach of his enemies, and shunned by his neighbors and his acquaintances; that he was forgotten by them like a dead man out of mind; that he was exposed to the slander of others, and that they conspired against his life, Psalm 31:11-13. In view of all this he calls earnestly upon God to save him in his troubles, and to be his helper and friend.

Mine eye is consumed with grief - That is, with weeping. See the notes at Psalm 6:7.

Yea, my soul - That is, my spirit, my life, my mind. My powers are weakened and exhausted by excessive grief.

And my belly - My bowels: regarded as the seat of the affections. See the notes at Isaiah 16:11; compare Psalm 22:14. The effect of his grief was to exhaust his strength, and to make his heart sink within him.

9, 10. mine eye, &c.—denotes extreme weakness (compare Ps 6:7).

grief—mingled sorrow and indignation (Ps 6:7).

soul and … belly—the whole person.

9 Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly.

10 For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed.

11 I was a reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbours, and a fear to mine acquaintance they that did see me without fled from me.

12 I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind. I am like a broken vessel.

13 For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side: while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life.

Psalm 31:9

"Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am in trouble." Now, the man of God comes to a particular and minute description of his sorrowful case. He unbosoms his heart, lays bare his wounds, and expresses his inward desolation. This first sentence pithily comprehends all that follows, it is the text for his lamenting discourse. Misery moves mercy - no more reasoning is needed. "Have mercy" is the prayer; the argument is as prevalent as it is plain and personal, "I am in trouble." "Mine eye is consumed with grief." Dim and sunken eyes are plain indicators of failing health. Tears draw their salt from our strength, and floods of them are very apt to consume the source from which they spring. God would have us tell him the symptoms of our disease, not for his information, but to show our sense of need. "Yea, my soul and my belly [or body]." Soul and body are so intimately united, that one cannot decline without the other feeling it. We, in these days, are not strangers to the double sinking which David describes; we have been faint with physical suffering, and distracted with mental distress: when two such seas meet, it is well for us that the Pilot at the helm is at home in the midst of the waterfloods, and makes storms to become the triumph of his art.

Psalm 31:10

"For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing." 'It had become his daily occupation to mourn; he spent all his days in the dungeon of distress. The sap and essence of his existence was being consumed, as a candle is wasted while it burns. His adversities were shortening his days, and digging for him an early grave. Grief is a sad market to spend all our wealth of life in, but a far more profitable trade may be driven there than in Vanity Fair; it is better to go to the house of mourning than the house of feasting. Black is good wear. The salt of tears is a healthy medicine. Better spend our years in sighing than in sinning. The two members of the sentence before us convey the same idea; but there are no idle words in Scripture, the reduplication is the fitting expression of fervency and importunity. "My strength faileth because of mine iniquity." David sees to the bottom of his sorrow, and detects sin lurking there. It is profitable trouble which leads us to trouble ourselves about our iniquity. Was this the Psalmist's foulest crime which now gnawed at his heart, and devoured his strength? Very probably it was so. Sinful morsels, though sweet in the mouth, turn out to be poison in the bowels: if we wantonly give a portion of our strength to sin, it will by-and-by take the remainder from us. We lose both physical, mental, moral, and spiritual rigour by iniquity. "And my bones are consumed." Weakness penetrated the innermost parts of his system, the firmest parts of his frame felt the general decrepitude. A man is in a piteous plight when he comes to this.

Psalm 31:11

"I was a reproach among all mine enemies." They were pleased to have something to throw at me: my mournful estate was music to them, because they maliciously interpreted it to be a judgment from heaven upon me. Reproach is little thought of by those who are not called to endure it, but he who passes under its lash knows how deep it wounds. The best of men may have the bitterest foes, and be subjected to the most cruel taunts. "But especially among my neighbours." Those who are nearest can stab the sharpest. We feel most the slights of those who should have shown us sympathy. Perhaps David's friends feared to be identified with his declining fortunes, and therefore turned against him in order to win the mercy if not the favour of his opponents. Self interest rules the most of men: ties the most sacred are soon snapped by its influence, and actions of the utmost meanness are perpetrated without scruple. "And a fear to mine acquaintance." The more intimate before, the more distant did they become. Our Lord was denied by Peter, betrayed by Judas, and forsaken by all in the hour of his utmost need. All the herd turn against a wounded deer. The milk of human kindness curdles when a despised believer is the victim of slanderous accusations. "They that did see me without fled from me." Afraid to be seen in the company of a man so thoroughly despised, those who once courted his society hastened from him as though he had been infected with the plague. How villainous a thing is slander which can thus make an eminent saint, once the admiration of his people, to become the general butt, the universal aversion of mankind! To what extremities of dishonour may innocence be reduced!

Psalm 31:12

"I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind." All David's youthful prowess was now gone from remembrance: he had been the saviour of his country, but his services were buried in oblivion. Men soon forget the deepest obligations; popularity is evanescent to the last degree: he who is in every one's mouth today may be forgotten by all tomorrow. A man had better be dead than be smothered in slander. Of the dead we say nothing but good, but in the Psalmist's case they said nothing but evil. We must not look for the reward of philanthropy this side of heaven, for men pay their best servants but sorry wages, and turn them out of doors when no more is to be got out of them. "I am like a broken vessel," a thing useless, done for, worthless, cast aside, forgotten. Sad condition for a king! Let us see herein the portrait of the King of kings in his humiliation, when he made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant.

Psalm 31:13

continued...

With grief; with continual weeping. See Poole "Psalm 6:7".

My soul; my sorrows are not counterfeit or slight, but inward and hearty; my mind is oppressed, my heart is ready to sink under my burden.

My belly, i.e. my bowels contained in my belly; which are the seat of the affections, and fountains of support and nourishment to the whole body. Thus the whole man, both soul and body, inside and outside, are consumed. Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am in trouble,.... A sudden change of case and frame this! and so it is with the people of God; as soon as, out of one trouble, they are in another; these are what are appointed for them, and lie in their pathway to heaven, and are necessary; and under them it is quite right to betake themselves to the Lord, who is a merciful God; and it is best to cast themselves upon his mercy, having no merit of their own to plead with him; and they may freely tell him all their distresses, as the psalmist here does, and hope for grace and mercy to help them in time of need;

mine eye, is consumed with grief; expressed by tears; through the multitude of which, by reason of trouble, his sight was greatly harmed; according to Jarchi, the word signifies, that his sight was so dim as is a man's when he puts a glass before his eyes, to see what is beyond the glass: this shows that the invention of spectacles was before the year 1105; for in that year Jarchi died; and proves it more early than any other writer has pretended to (a); for the commonly received opinion is, that they were invented at the latter end of the thirteenth or beginning of the fourteenth century; but the apostle, as A-Lapide thinks, respects them, in 1 Corinthians 13:12; and they are mentioned by Plautus (b), who lived almost two hundred years before the birth of Christ: the same Jarchi observes on Psalm 6:7;

yea, my soul and my belly; perhaps he could not eat his food, or digest it, which brought upon him internal disorders, and even brought his soul or life into danger.

(a) See Chambers's Dictionary on the word "Spectacles". (b) Vid. Ainsworth's Lat. Dict. in voce "Conspicill". & Panciroll. Rer. Memorab. par. 2. tit. 15. & Salmath. in ib. p. 268.

Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble: mine {f} eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly.

(f) Meaning, that his sorrow and torment had continued a great while.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. Be gracious unto me, O Jehovah, for I am in distress:

Mine eye is wasted away because of provocation, yea, my soul and my body.

Cp. Psalm 6:7 a; amplified here by the addition of my soul and my body (Psalm 44:25).

9–18. The tone of the Psalm changes. The recollection of past mercies brings present suffering into sharper relief. “A sorrow’s crown of sorrow is remembering happier things.” This part of the Psalm reminds us of Psalms 6, and of Jeremiah’s complaints.Verse 9. - Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am in trouble. The psalmist follows up his prayer for mercy by an exposition of his need of mercy. He is in trouble, in sore trouble - "hard pressed," as Hengstenberg translates - distressed both in mind and body. Mine eye is consumed with grief (comp. Psalm 6:7, where the expression is almost identical). The grief intended is "that produced by provocation or spiteful treatment" (Kay). It causes him to weep so much that his eye is well-nigh "consumed" or "eaten away." Yea, my soul and my belly. Some explain this as meaning simply "my soul and my body" (Hengstenberg, Alexander, Revised Version); but others regard the "belly" as denoting "the very centre of physical life and of the emotions" (comp. Job 32:19). (Heb.: 31:2-9) The poet begins with the prayer for deliverance, based upon the trust which Jahve, to whom he surrenders himself, cannot possibly disappoint; and rejoices beforehand in the protection which he assumes will, without any doubt, be granted. Out of his confident security in God (הסיתי) springs the prayer: may it never come to this with me, that I am put to confusion by the disappointment of my hope. This prayer in the form of intense desire is followed by prayers in the direct form of supplication. The supplicatory פלּטני is based upon God's righteousness, which cannot refrain from repaying conduct consistent with the order of redemption, though after prolonged trial, with the longed for tokens of deliverance. In the second paragraph, the prayer is moulded in accordance with the circumstances of him who is chased by Saul hither and thither among the mountains and in the desert, homeless and defenceless. In the expression צוּר מעוז, מעוז is genit. appositionis: a rock of defence (מעוז from עזז, as in Psalm 27:1), or rather: of refuge (מעוז equals Arab. m‛âd, from עוּז, עוז equals Arab. 'âd, as in Psalm 37:39; Psalm 52:9, and probably also in Isaiah 30:2 and elsewhere);

(Note: It can hardly be doubted, that, in opposition to the pointing as we have it, which only recognises one מעוז (מעז) from עזז, to be strong, there are two different substantives having this principal form, viz., מעז a fortress, secure place, bulwark, which according to its derivation is inflected מעזּי, etc., and מעוז equivalent to the Arabic ma‛âdh, a hiding-place, defence, refuge, which ought to have been declined מעוזי or מעוּזי like the synonymous מנוּסי (Olshausen 201, 202). Moreover עוּז, Arab. 'âd, like חסה, of which it is the parallel word in Isaiah 30:2, means to hide one's self anywhere (Piel and Hiph., Hebrew העיז, according to the Kamus, Zamachshari and Neshwn: to hide any one, e.g., Koran 3:31); hence Arab. 'â‛d, a plant that grows among bushes (bên esh-shôk according to the Kamus) or in the crevices of the rocks (fi-l-hazn according to Neshwn) and is thus inaccessible to the herds; Arab. 'wwad, gazelles that are invisible, i.e., keep hidden, for seven days after giving birth, also used of pieces of flesh of which part is hidden among the bones; Arab. 'ûdat, an amulet with which a man covers himself (protegit), and so forth. - Wetzstein.

Consequently מעוז (formed like Arab. m‛âd, according to Neshwn equivalent to Arab. ma'wad) is prop. a place in which to hide one's self, synonymous with מחסה, מנוס, Arab. mlâd, malja‛, and the like. True, the two substantives from עזז and עוז meet in their meanings like praesidium and asylum, and according to passages like Jeremiah 16:19 appear to be blended in the genius of the language, but they are radically distinct.)

a rock-castle, i.e., a castle upon a rock, would be called מעוז צוּר, reversing the order of the words. צוּר מעוז in Psalm 71:3, a rock of habitation, i.e., of safe sojourn, fully warrants this interpretation. מצוּדה, prop. specula, signifies a mountain height or the summit of a mountain; a house on the mountain height is one that is situated on some high mountain top and affords a safe asylum (vid., on Psalm 18:3). The thought "show me Thy salvation, for Thou art my Saviour," underlies the connection expressed by כּי in Psalm 31:4 and Psalm 31:5. Lster considers it to be illogical, but it is the logic of every believing prayer. The poet prays that God would become to him, actu reflexo, that which to the actus directus of his faith He is even now. The futures in Psalm 31:4, Psalm 31:5 express hopes which necessarily arise out of that which Jahve is to the poet. The interchangeable notions הנחה and נהל, with which we are familiar from Psalm 23:1-6, stand side by side, in order to give urgency to the utterance of the longing for God's gentle and safe guidance. Instead of translating it "out of the net, which etc.," according to the accents (cf. Psalm 10:2; Psalm 12:8) it should be rendered "out of the net there," so that טמנוּ לּי is a relative clause without the relative.

Into the hand of this God, who is and will be all this to him, he commends his spirit; he gives it over into His hand as a trust or deposit (פּקּדון); for whatsoever is deposited there is safely kept, and freed from all danger and all distress. The word used is not נפשׁי, which Theodotion substitutes when he renders it τὴν ἐμαυτοῦ ψυχὴν τῇ σῇ παρατίθημι προμηθείᾳ but רוּחי; and this is used designedly. The language of the prayer lays hold of life at its root, as springing directly from God and as also living in the believer from God and in God; and this life it places under His protection, who is the true life of all spirit-life (Isaiah 38:16) and of all life. It is the language of prayer with which the dying Christ breathed forth His life, Luke 23:46. The period of David's persecution by Saul is the most prolific in types of the Passion; and this language of prayer, which proceeded from the furnace of affliction through which David at that time passed, denotes, in the mouth of Christ a crisis in the history of redemption in which the Old Testament receives its fulfilment. Like David, He commends His spirit to God; but not, that He may not die, but that dying He may not die, i.e., that He may receive back again His spirit-corporeal life, which is hidden in the hand of God, in imperishable power and glory. That which is so ardently desired and hoped for is regarded by him, who thus in faith commends himself to God, as having already taken place, "Thou hast redeemed me, Jahve, God of truth." The perfect פּדיתה is not used here, as in Psalm 4:2, of that which is past, but of that which is already as good as past; it is not precative (Ew. 223, b), but, like the perfects in Psalm 31:8, Psalm 31:9, an expression of believing anticipation of redemption. It is the praet. confidentiae which is closely related to the praet. prophet.; for the spirit of faith, like the spirit of the prophets, speaks of the future with historic certainty. In the notion of אל אמת it is impossible to exclude the reference to false gods which is contained in אלהי אמת, 2 Chronicles 15:3, since, in Psalm 31:7, "vain illusions" are used as an antithesis. הבלים, ever since Deuteronomy 32:21, has become a favourite name for idols, and more particularly in Jeremiah (e.g., Psalm 8:1-9 :19). On the other hand, according to the context, it may also not differ very greatly from אל אמוּנה, Deuteronomy 32:4; since the idea of God as a depositary or trustee still influences the thought, and אמת and אמוּנה are used interchangeably in other passages as personal attributes. We may say that אמת is being that lasts and verifies itself, and אמונה is sentiment that lasts and verifies itself. Therefore אל אמת is the God, who as the true God, maintains the truth of His revelation, and more especially of His promises, by a living authority or rule.

In Psalm 31:7, David appeals to his entire and simple surrender to this true and faithful God: hateful to him are those, who worship vain images, whilst he, on the other hand, cleaves to Jahve. It is the false gods, which are called הבלי־שׁוא, as beings without being, which are of no service to their worshippers and only disappoint their expectations. Probably (as in Psalm 5:6) it is to be read שׂנאת with the lxx, Vulgate, Syriac, and Arabic versions (Hitzig, Ewald, Olshausen, and others). In the text before us, which gives us no corrective Ker as in 2 Samuel 14:21; Ruth 4:5, ואני is not an antithesis to the preceding clause, but to the member of that clause which immediately precedes it. In Jonah's psalm, Psalm 2:9, this is expressed by משׁמּרים הבלי־שׁוא; in the present instance the Kal is used in the signification observare, colere, as in Hosea 4:10, and even in Proverbs 27:18. In the waiting of service is included, according to Psalm 59:10, the waiting of trust. The word בּטח which denotes the fiducia fidei is usually construed with בּ of adhering to, or על of resting upon; but here it is combined with אל of hanging on. The cohortatives in Psalm 31:8 express intentions. Olshausen and Hitzig translate them as optatives: may I be able to rejoice; but this, as a continuation of Psalm 31:7, seems less appropriate. Certain that he will be heard, he determines to manifest thankful joy for Jahve's mercy, that (אשׁר as in Genesis 34:27) He has regarded (ἐπέβλεψε, Luke 1:48) his affliction, that He has known and exerted Himself about his soul's distresses. The construction ידע בּ, in the presence of Genesis 19:33, Genesis 19:35; Job 12:9; Job 35:15, cannot be doubted (Hupfeld); it is more significant than the expression "to know of anything;" בּ is like ἐπὶ in ἐπιγιγνώσκειν used of the perception or comprehensive knowledge, which grasps an object and takes possession of it, or makes itself master of it. הסגּיר, Psalm 31:9, συγκλείειν, as in 1 Samuel 23:11 (in the mouth of David) is so to abandon, that the hand of another closes upon that which is abandoned to it, i.e., has it completely in its power. מרחב, as in Psalm 18:20, cf. Psalm 26:12. The language is David's, in which the language of the Tra, and more especially of Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 32:30; Deuteronomy 23:16), is re-echoed.

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