Withhold not you your tender mercies from me, O LORD: let your loving kindness and your truth continually preserve me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Psalm 40:11-12. Withhold not thy tender mercies, &c. — This prayer is uttered by David, either, 1st, In the person of Christ, to whom it may agree; or, rather, 2d, In his own person. For having been transported by the Spirit of God to the commemoration of the great mystery of the Messiah, of whom he was an illustrious type, he now seems to be led back by the same Spirit to the consideration of his own case. Mine iniquities — Either, 1st, The punishment of mine iniquities, as Genesis 4:13, and elsewhere; or, 2d, The iniquities themselves. This cannot be understood of Christ. For although our sins were said to be laid upon him, Isaiah 53:6, and upon that account he is said to be made sin for us, 2 Corinthians 5:21; yet the Scripture everywhere represents him as one that never knew or did any sin; and, therefore, it is not probable that the Holy Ghost would use such an expression concerning him, as is never used in Scripture, but either of a man’s own sins, or of the punishment deserved by them. Have taken hold upon me — Men’s sins are figuratively said to follow them, 1 Timothy 5:24, and to find them out, Numbers 32:23; and here to take hold on them as an officer takes hold on a man, whom he arrests. So that I am not able to look up — Unto God or men with any comfort or confidence; I am ashamed and confounded. They are more than the hairs of my head — Namely, mine iniquities here mentioned, properly so called; for God’s people are more apt to aggravate their sins than the punishments of them.Psalm 40:6-8, and the sorrows or sufferings that would come upon him in the accomplishment of his work Psalm 40:12-13. He saw himself at this point of his life, as represented in the psalm, as about to sink into the depth of woes. He had kept the law of God, and had by his obedience thus far done His will. He had made known the truth of God, and had declared His great message to the assembled multitude that had crowded his path, and thronged to hear him. He saw himself now about to enter the vale of sorrow; to plunge into that depth of the unutterable woes connected with the making of an atonement. He prayed, therefore, that, in these approaching sorrows, God would not withhold the expression of his tender mercy. The point of time, therefore, in the Redeemer's life which the verse before us occupies, is that awful and sorrowful hour when, his public work of teaching and of miracles finished, he was about to endure the agonies of Gethsemane and of the cross.
Let thy loving-kindness - Thy mercy. "And thy truth." Thy promises; thy plighted support and strength; thy fidelity. That is, he prayed that God would show himself true and faithful in bearing him through the great work of the atonement.
Continually - Through the whole of these sorrows. Do not for a moment leave or forsake me.
Preserve me - Keep me from sinking under these woes; from speaking any improper word; from shrinking back; from being overcome by the tempter; from failing in the great work now to be accomplished. As the Redeemer had a human as well as a divine nature; as he was man, with all human susceptibilities to suffering, it was not inappropriate that he should utter this prayer, and lift up his heart with the utmost earnestness to God, that he might not be forsaken in the consummation of the great work of his life, and that this work might not fail.
12 For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.
13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me: O Lord, make haste to help me.
14 Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil.
15 Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame that say unto me, Aha, aha.
16 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The Lord be magnified.
17 But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.
"Withhold not thou try tender mercies from me, O Lord." Alas! these were to be for awhile withheld from our Lord while on the accursed tree, but meanwhile in his great agony he seeks for gentle dealing; and the coming of the angel to strengthen him was a clear answer to his prayer. He had been blessed aforetime in the desert, and now at the entrance of the valley of the shadow of death, like a true, trustful, and experienced man, he utters a holy, plaintive desire for the tenderness of heaven. He had not withheld his testimony to God's truth, now in return he begs his Father not to withhold his compassion. This verse might more correctly be read as a declaration of his confidence that help would not be refused; but whether we view this utterance as the cry of prayer, or the avowal of faith, in either case it is instructive to us who take our suffering Lord for an example, and it proves to us how thoroughly he was made like unto his brethren. "Let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me." He had preached both of these, and now he asks for an experience of them, that he might be kept in the evil day and rescued from his enemies and his afflictions. Nothing endears our Lord to us more than to hear him thus pleading with strong crying and tears to him who was able to save. O Lord Jesus, in our nights of wrestling we will remember thee.
"For innumerable evils have compassed me about." On every side he was beset with evils; countless woes environed the great Substitute for our sins. Our sins were innumerable, and so were his griefs. There was no escape for us from our iniquities, and there was no escape for him from the woes which we deserved. From every quarter evils accumulated about the blessed One, although in his heart evil found no place. "Mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up." He had no sin, but sins were laid on him, and he took them as if they were his. "He was made sin for us." The transfer of sin to the Saviour was real, and produced in him as man the horror which forbade him to look into the face of God, bowing him down with crushing anguish and woe intolerable. O my soul, what would thy sins have done for thee eternally if the Friend of sinners had not condescended to take them all upon himself? Oh, blessed Scripture! "The Lord hath made to meet upon him the iniquity of us all." Oh, marvellous depth of love, which could lead the perfectly immaculate to stand in the sinner's place, and bear the horror of great trembling which sin must bring upon those conscious of it. "They are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me." The pains of the divine penalty were beyond compute, and the Saviour's soul was so burdened with them, that he was sore amazed, and very heavy even unto a sweat of blood. His strength was gone, his spirits sank, he was in an agony.
Came at length the dreadful night;
Vengeance with its iron rod
Stood, and with collected might
1. In the person of Christ; to whom it may agree. Or,
2. In his own person. Having been transported and carried forth by the Spirit of God to the contemplation and commemoration of the great mystery of the Messias, of whom he was an illustrious type, now he seems to be led back by the same Spirit to the consideration of himself and his own particular case.
let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me; as he had promised; of which promise some notice is given, Isaiah 49:8, in the fulfilment of which the lovingkindness, truth, and faithfulness of God, would appear. Some read these words as expressive of faith in these things, "thou wilt not withhold", &c. "thy lovingkindness and thy truth shall continually preserve me" (o).Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)11. Thou, O Jehovah, wilt not restrain Thy tender mercies from me,
Thy lovingkindness and thy truth shall continually guard me.
The words are not a prayer but an expression of confidence in the certainty of God’s response (Matthew 10:32). Thou is emphatic. God on His part will not fail. The double correspondence with Psalm 40:9-10 should be noted. As he has not restrained his lips, so, he trusts, God will not restrain His tender mercies: as he has not ceased to acknowledge God’s lovingkindness and truth, so that lovingkindness and truth will not cease to protect him. Cp. Psalm 25:21; Psalm 61:7; Isaiah 63:15.Verse 11. - Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord. The supplicatory portion of the psalm here commences. David beseeches God, whose loving-kindness is so great (ver. 10), not to withhold from him those "tender mercies" which he lavishes so freely. As he is bent on "not withholding," or "refraining," his lips (ver. 9), so it is fitting that God should not "withhold," or "refrain" (כלא) his kindness. Let thy loving-kindness and thy truth continually preserve me (compare the last clause of ver. 10). Psalm 71:5; Job 31:24; Jeremiah 17:7) in Jahve, the God who has already made Himself glorious in Israel by innumerable wonderful works. Jeremiah 17:7 is an echo of this אשׁרי. Psalm 52:9 (cf. Psalm 91:9) shows how Davidic is the language. The expression is designedly not האישׁ, but הגּבר, which is better adapted to designate the man as being tempted to put trust in himself. רהבים from רהב (not from רהב) are the impetuous or violent, who in their arrogance cast down everything. שׂטי כזב, "turners aside of falsehood" (שׁוּט equals שׂטה, cf. Psalm 101:3), is the expression for apostates who yield to falsehood instead of to the truth: to take כּזב as accusative of the aim is forbidden by the status construct.; to take it as the genitive in the sense of the accusative of the object (like תם הלכי, Proverbs 2:7) is impracticable, because שׂוט (שׂטה) does not admit of a transitive sense; כזב is, therefore, genit. qualit. like און in Psalm 59:6. This second strophe contains two practical applications of that which the writer himself has experienced. From this point of view, he who trusts in God appears to the poet to be supremely happy, and a distant view of God's gracious rule over His own people opens up before him. נפלאות are the thoughts of God realized, and מחשׁבות those that are being realized, as in Jeremiah 51:29; Isaiah 55:8. רבּות is an accusative of the predicate: in great number, in rich abundance; אלינוּ, "for us," as e.g., in Jeremiah 15:1 (Ew. 217, c). His doings towards Israel were from of old a fulness of wondrous deeds and plans of deliverance, which was ever realizing and revealing itself. There is not ערך אליך, a possibility of comparison with Thee, οὐκ ἔστι (Ew. 321, c) ἰσουν τί σοι - ערך as in Psalm 89:7; Isaiah 40:18 - they are too powerful (עצם of a powerful sum, as in Psalm 69:5; Psalm 139:17, cf. Jeremiah 5:6) for one to enumerate. According to Rosenmller, Stier, and Hupfeld, אין ערך אליך even affirms the same thing in other words: it is not possible to lay them forth to Thee (before Thee); but that man should "lay forth" (Symmachus ἐκθέστηαι) before God His marvellous works and His thoughts of salvation, is an unbecoming conception. The cohortative forms, which follow, אגּידה ואדבּרה ,wollof h, admit of being taken as a protasis to what follows, after the analogy of Job 19:18; Job 16:6; Job 30:26; Psalm 139:8 : if I wish to declare them and speak them forth, they are too powerful (numerous) to be enumerated (Ges. 128, 1, d). The accentuation, however, renders it as a parenthetical clause: I would (as in Psalm 51:18; Psalm 55:13; Psalm 6:10) declare them and speak them forth. He would do this, but because God, in the fulness of His wondrous works and thoughts of salvation, is absolutely without an equal, he is obliged to leave it undone - they are so powerful (numerous) that the enumeration of them falls far short of their powerful fulness. The words alioqui pronunciarem et eloquerer have the character of a parenthesis, and, as Psalm 40:7 shows, this accords with the style of this Psalm.
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