Psalm 43:1
Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XLIII.

(1) An ungodly nation.—In the Hebrew simply a negative term, a nation not khasîd, i.e., not in the covenant. But naturally a positive idea of ungodliness and wickedness would attach to such a term.

Psalm 43:1-2. Judge me, O God, &c. — “O God, the supreme Judge of the whole world, I appeal to thee, in this contest between me and a seditious people, who, void of piety and humanity,” (so the phrase לא חסיד, lo chasid, here rendered ungodly, means,) “are risen up in rebellion against me, beseeching thee to vindicate my innocence, and defend me from their violence.” — Bishop Patrick. He calls the company of his enemies a nation, because of their great numbers: for they were the far greater part, and almost the whole body of the nation. Deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man — Who hath covered his wicked designs with fair and false pretexts, pretending devotion when he went to make an insurrection, 2 Samuel 15:7; 2 Samuel 15:10. Deliver me from the crafty counsel which Ahithophel gives him; and from the open force whereby he seeks injuriously to take away my life, Ibid. Psalm 17:1-2. For thou art the God of my strength, &c. — I have none to flee unto for safety and protection but thee alone; who hast ever hitherto been my mighty deliverer, and art now my only support.43:6-11 The way to forget our miseries, is to remember the God of our mercies. David saw troubles coming from God's wrath, and that discouraged him. But if one trouble follow hard after another, if all seem to combine for our ruin, let us remember they are all appointed and overruled by the Lord. David regards the Divine favour as the fountain of all the good he looked for. In the Saviour's name let us hope and pray. One word from him will calm every storm, and turn midnight darkness into the light of noon, the bitterest complaints into joyful praises. Our believing expectation of mercy must quicken our prayers for it. At length, is faith came off conqueror, by encouraging him to trust in the name of the Lord, and to stay himself upon his God. He adds, And my God; this thought enabled him to triumph over all his griefs and fears. Let us never think that the God of our life, and the Rock of our salvation, has forgotten us, if we have made his mercy, truth, and power, our refuge. Thus the psalmist strove against his despondency: at last his faith and hope obtained the victory. Let us learn to check all unbelieving doubts and fears. Apply the promise first to ourselves, and then plead it to God.Judge me, O God - This does not mean, Pronounce sentence upon me; but, Undertake my cause; interpose in my behalf; do justice in the case. He regarded his own cause as right; he felt that he was greatly wronged by the treatment which he received from people, and he asks to have it shown that he was not guilty of what his enemies charged on him; that he was an upright man, and a friend of God. See Psalm 7:8, note; Psalm 26:1, note.

And plead my cause - See the notes at Psalm 35:1. "Against an ungodly nation." Margin, unmerciful. Literally, "from a nation not merciful," or not; religious. The idea is, that the nation or people referred to manifested none of the spirit of religion in their conduct toward him; that he was treated with severity and injustice. This entire description would agree well with the state of things in the time of the rebellion of Absalom, when David was driven from his home and his throne: 2 Samuel 15, following.

O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man - Margin, as in Hebrew, from a man of deceit and iniquity. This would apply well to the case and character of Absalom, or perhaps more directly and properly to the character and counsel of Ahithophel, among the leading conspirators in the rebellion of Absalom, to whose counsels much of the rebellion was owing: 2 Samuel 15:31; compare 2 Samuel 16:23; 2 Samuel 17:14, 2 Samuel 17:23.

PSALM 43

Ps 43:1-5. Excepting the recurrence of the refrain, there is no good reason to suppose this a part of the preceding, though the scope is the same. It has always been placed separate.

1. Judge—or, "vindicate" (Ps 10:18).

plead, &c.—(Ps 35:1).

ungodly—neither in character or condition objects of God's favor (compare Ps 4:3).

1 Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man.

2 For thou art the God of my strength: why dost thou cast me off? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

3 O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.

Psalm 43:1

"Judge me, O God." Others are unable to understand my motives, and unwilling to give me a just verdict. My heart is clear as to its intent, and therefore I bring my case before thee, content that thou wilt impartially weigh my character, and right my wrongs. If thou wilt judge, thy acceptance of my conduct will be enough for me; I can laugh at human misrepresentation if my conscience knows that thou art on my side; thou art the only one I care for; and besides, thy verdict will not sleep, but thou wilt see practical justice done to thy slandered servant. "And plead my cause against an ungodly nation." One such advocate as the Lord will more than suffice to answer a nation of brawling accusers. When people are ungodly no wonder that they are unjust: those who are not true to God himself cannot be expected to deal rightly with his people. Hating the King they will not love his subjects. Popular opinion weighs with many, but divine opinion is far more weighty with the gracious few. One good word from God outweighs ten thousand railing speeches of men. He bears a brazen shield before him whose reliance in all things is upon his God; the arrows of calumny fall harmlessly from such a buckler. "O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man." Deceit and injustice are boon companions: he who fawns will not fear to slander. From two such devils none can deliver us but God. His wisdom can outwit the craft of the vilest serpent, and his power can overmatch the most raging lion. Whether this was Doeg or Ahithophel is small matter, such double distilled villains are plentiful, and the only way of dealing with them is to refer the matter to the righteous Judge of all; if we try to fight them with their own weapons, we shall suffer more serious injury from ourselves than from them. O child of God, leave these thine enemies in better hands, remembering that vengeance belongeth not to thee, but to the Lord. Turn to him in prayer, crying, "O deliver me," and ere long you shall publish abroad the remembrance of his salvation.

Psalm 43:2

"For." - Here is argument, which is the very sinew of prayer. If we reasoned more with the Lord we should have more victories in supplication. "Thou art the God of my strength." All my strength belongs to thee - I will not, therefore, use it on my own behalf against my personal foes. All my strength comes from thee, I therefore seek help from thee, who art able to bestow it. All my strength is in thee. I leave therefore this task of combating my foes entirely in thy hands. Faith which leaves such things alone is wise faith. Note the assurance of David, "thou art," not I hope and trust so, but I know it is so; we shall find confidence to be our consolation. "Why dost thou cast me off?" Why am I treated as if thou didst loathe me? Am I become an offence unto thee? There are many reasons why the Lord might cast us off, but no reason shall prevail to make him do so. He hath not cast off his people, though he for awhile treats them as cast-offs. Learn from this question that it is well to enquire into dark providences, but we must enquire of God, not of our own fears. He who is the author of a mysterious trial can best expound it to us.

"Blind unbelief is sure to err,

And scan his work in vain;

God is his own interpreter,

And he will make it plain."

"Why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?" Why do I wander hither and thither like a restless spirit? Why wear I the weeds of sorrow on my body, and the lines of grief on my face? Oppression makes a wise man mad; why, Lord, am I called to endure so much of it for so long a time? Here again is a useful question, addressed to the right quarter. The answer will often be because we are saints, and must be made like our Head, and because such sorrow is chastening to the spirit, and yieldeth comfortable fruit. We are not to cross-question the Lord in peevishness, but we may ask of him in humility; God help us to observe the distinction so as not to sin through stress of sorrow.

Psalm 43:3

"O send out thy light and thy truth." The joy of thy presence and the faithfulness of thy heart; let both of these be manifest to me. Reveal my true character by thy light, and reward me according to thy truthful promise. As the sun darts forth his beams, so does the Lord send forth his favour and his faithfulness towards all his people; and as all nature rejoices in the sunshine, even so the saints triumph in the manifestation of the love and fidelity of their God, which, like the golden sunbeam, lights up even the darkest surroundings with delightful splendour. "Let them lead me." Be these my star to guide me to my rest. Be these my Alpine guides to conduct me over mountains and precipices to the abodes of grace. "Let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles." First in thy mercy bring me to thine earthly courts, and end my weary exile, and then in due time admit me to thy celestial palace above. We seek not light to sin by, nor truth to be exalted by it, but that they may become our practical guides to the nearest communion with God: only such light and truth as are sent us from God will do this, common light is not strong enough to show the road to heaven, nor will mere moral or physical truths assist to the holy hill; but the light of the Holy Spirit, and the truth as it is in Jesus, these are elevating, sanctifying, perfecting; and hence their virtue in leading us to the glorious presence of God. It is beautiful to observe how David's longing to be away from the oppression of man always leads him to sigh more intensely for communion with God. THE ARGUMENT

This Psalm seems to have been composed by the same author, and upon the same occasion with the former.

David, praying against his fierce and crafty enemies, Psalm 43:1; and to be restored to the temple, Psalm 43:2,3; promiseth to serve God joyfully, Psalm 43:4. He encourageth his soul to trust in God, Psalm 43:5.

Judge me; or, judge or give sentence for me, as this phrase is used, Psalm 26:1, and elsewhere.

Ungodly, or unmerciful, i.e. cruel or inhuman; for it is a meiosis. Nation; so he calls the company of his enemies for their great numbers, and because they were the far greatest part, and almost the whole body of the nation.

Deceitful and unjust; who covereth his wicked designs with fair and false pretences; which sort of men are hateful to thee, and to all good men.

Man; either Saul; or rather, Ahithophel or Absalom. For he speaks of the holy hill of Zion, Psalm 43:3, which was not so till after Saul’s time. Or man may be put collectively for the men of that time.

Judge me, O God,.... The Targum adds, with the judgment of truth; see Romans 2:2;

and plead my cause; which was a righteous one; and therefore he could commit it to God to be tried and judged by him, and could put it into his hands to plead it for him; See Gill on Psalm 35:1;

against an ungodly nation; meaning either the Philistines, among whom he was; or his own nation, when they joined his son Absalom in rebellion against him: some understand it of the great numbers that were with Saul, when he was persecuted by him;

O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man; either Absalom, who, under pretence of a vow he had vowed in Hebron, got leave of David to go thither, and then engaged in a conspiracy against him; or Ahithophel, who had been his friend and acquaintance, but now joined with Absalom. It is true of Saul, who, under pretence of friendship, sought his ruin, and to whom he expressed himself almost in the same words here used; see 1 Samuel 18:17.

Judge {a} me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly {b} nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man.

(a) He desires God to undertake his cause against the enemies but chiefly that he would restore him to the tabernacle.

(b) That is, the cruel company of my enemies.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. Judge me &c.] An appeal to God the Judge to do him justice and vindicate his innocence by delivering him from the power of his insolent foes. For the language cp. Psalm 7:8; Psalm 26:1; Psalm 35:1; Psalm 35:24.

against an ungodly nation] Lit. from, i. e. by delivering me from, a nation without lovingkindness; heathen destitute of all feeling of humanity. For the meaning of châsîd see notes on Psalm 4:3; Psalm 12:1; and Appendix, Note 1.

the deceitful and unjust man] The leader of the heathen, who had distinguished himself by treachery and malignity, may be meant. But it is better to understand the words collectively as a further description of the ‘inhuman nation’ in general, men of deceit and malignity.

1, 2. Prayer for deliverance, grounded upon God’s relation to him.

Psalm 43:1-5. A passionate prayer for deliverance from his enemies and restoration to the privileges of the sanctuary.Verse 1. - Judge me, O God (comp. Psalm 35:24). And plead my cause. (comp. Psalm 35:1). God's intervention is asked in the struggle between David and his enemies, on the assumed ground that he is in the right, and not they. God will, of course, only interpose if this is so. Against an ungodly nation; or, an unkind, unloving nation. Though called גוִי, as in Isaiah 1:4, still Israel is meant. They were "unloving," both towards God and towards their king. O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man. Either Absalom or Ahithophel may be meant; or "man" may be used abstractedly for David's enemies generally. (Heb.: 42:7-12) The poet here continues to console himself with God's help. God Himself is indeed dishonoured in him; He will not suffer the trust he has reposed in Him to go unjustified. True, עלי seems at the beginning of the line to be tame, but from עלי and אזכּרך, the beginning and end of the line, standing in contrast, עלי is made emphatic, and it is at the same time clear that על־כּן is not equivalent to אשׁר על־כּן - which Gesenius asserts in his Lexicon, erroneously referring to Psalm 1:5; Psalm 45:3, is a poetical usage of the language; an assertion for which, however, there is as little support as that כּי על־כּן in Numbers 14:43 and other passages is equivalent to על־כּן כּי. In all such passages, e.g., Jeremiah 48:36, על־כּן means "therefore," and the relationship of reason and consequence is reversed. So even here: within him his soul is bowed very low, and on account of this downcast condition he thinks continually of God, from whom he is separated. Even in Jonah 2:8 this thinking upon God does not appear as the cause but as the consequence of pain. The "land of Jordan and of Hermonim" is not necessarily the northern mountain range together with the sources of the Jordan. The land beyond the Jordan is so called in opposition to ארץ לבנון, the land on this side. According to Dietrich (Abhandlungen, S. 18), חרמונים is an amplificative plural: the Hermon, as a peak soaring far above all lower summits. John Wilson (Lands of the Bible, ii. 161) refers the plural to its two summits. But the plural serves to denote the whole range of the Antilebanon extending to the south-east, and accordingly to designate the east Jordanic country. It is not for one moment to be supposed that the psalmist calls Hermon even, in comparison with his native Zion, the chosen of God. הר מצער, i.e., the mountain of littleness: the other member of the antithesis, the majesty of Zion, is wanting, and the מן which is repeated before הר is also opposed to this. Hitzig, striking out the מ of מהר, makes it an address to Zion: "because I remember thee out of the land of Jordan and of summits of Hermon, thou little mountain;" but, according to Psalm 42:8, these words are addressed to Elohim. In the vicinity of Mitz‛are, a mountain unknown to us, in the country beyond Jordan, the poet is sojourning; from thence he looks longingly towards the district round about his home, and just as there, in a strange land, the wild waters of the awe-inspiring mountains roar around him, there seems to be a corresponding tumult in his soul. In Psalm 42:8 he depicts the natural features of the country round about him - and it may remind one quite as much of the high and magnificent waterfalls of the lake of Muzêrı̂b as of the waterfall at the course of the Jordan near Paneas and the waters that dash headlong down the mountains round about - and in Psalm 42:8 he says that he feels just as though all these threatening masses of water were following like so many waves of misfortune over his head (Tholuck, Hitzig, and Riehm). Billow follows billow as if called by one another (cf. Isaiah 6:3 concerning the continuous antiphon of the seraphim) at the roar (לקול as in Habakkuk 3:16) of the cataracts, which in their terrible grandeur proclaim the Creator, God (lxx τῶν καταῤῥακτῶν σου) - all these breaking, sporting waves of God pass over him, who finds himself thus surrounded by the mighty works of nature, but taking no delight in them; and in them all he sees nothing but the mirrored image of the many afflictions which threaten to involve him in utter destruction (cf. the borrowed passage in that mosaic work taken from the Psalms, Jonah 2:4).

He, however, calls upon himself in Psalm 42:9 to take courage in the hope that a morning will dawn after this night of affliction (Psalm 30:6), when Jahve, the God of redemption and of the people of redemption, will command His loving-kindness (cf. Psalm 44:5, Amos; 3f.); and when this by day has accomplished its work of deliverance, there follows upon the day of deliverance a night of thanksgiving (Job 35:10): the joyous excitement, the strong feeling of gratitude, will not suffer him to sleep. The suffix of שׁירה is the suffix of the object: a hymn in praise of Him, prayer (viz., praiseful prayer, Habakkuk 3:1) to the God of his life (cf. Sir. 23:4), i.e., who is his life, and will not suffer him to come under the dominion of death. Therefore will he say (אומרה), in order to bring about by prayer such a day of loving-kindness and such a night of thanksgiving songs, to the God of his rock, i.e., who is his rock (gen. apos.): Why, etc.? Concerning the different accentuation of למה here and in Psalm 43:2, vid., on Psalm 37:20 (cf. Psalm 10:1). In this instance, where it is not followed by a guttural, it serves as a "variation" Hitzig); but even the retreating of the tone when a guttural follows is not consistently carried out, vid., Psalm 49:6, cf. 1 Samuel 28:15 (Ew. 243, b). The view of Vaihinger and Hengstenberg is inadmissible, viz., that Psalm 42:10 to Psalm 42:11 are the "prayer," which the psalmist means in Psalm 42:9; it is the prayerful sigh of the yearning for deliverance, which is intended to form the burthen of that prayer. In some MSS we find the reading כּרצח instead of בּרצח; the בּ is here really synonymous with the כּ, it is the Beth essentiae (vid., Psalm 35:2): after the manner of a crushing (cf. Ezekiel 21:27, and the verb in Psalm 62:4 of overthrowing a wall) in my bones, i.e., causing me a crunching pain which seethes in my bones, mine oppressors reproach me (חרף with the transfer of the primary meaning carpere, as is also customary in the Latin, to a plucking and stripping one of his good name). The use of ב here differs from its use in Psalm 42:10; for the reproaching is not added to the crushing as a continuing state, but is itself thus crushing in its operation (vid., Psalm 42:4). Instead of בּאמר we have here the easier form of expression בּאמרם; and in the refrain פּני ואלהי, which is also to be restored in Psalm 42:6.

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