Psalm 56:12
Your vows are on me, O God: I will render praises to you.
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(12) Thy vowsi.e., vows made to Thee, but the form is most unusual. For the thought comp. Psalm 22:25; Psalm 50:14.

I will renderi.e., in fulfilment of the vows.

Psalm 56:12-13. Thy vows are upon me — As I have prayed to thee, and am assured that thou wilt deliver me, so, in confidence thereof, I have made vows to express my gratitude to thee, and I acknowledge myself obliged thereby, and do resolve to perform them. For thou hast delivered my soul from death — Which my enemies designed to bring upon me, and of which I was in extreme danger. Wilt thou not deliver my feet from falling? — I am confident that thou wilt, because of thy promises, and my former experience; that I may walk before God — That I may please, serve, and glorify thee, which is the great end for which I desire life; in the light of the living — In this life here, which is opposed to the death last mentioned; and in heaven hereafter. 56:8-13 The heavy and continued trials through which many of the Lord's people have passed, should teach us to be silent and patient under lighter crosses. Yet we are often tempted to repine and despond under small sorrows. For this we should check ourselves. David comforts himself, in his distress and fear, that God noticed all his grievances and all his griefs. God has a bottle and a book for his people's tears, both the tears for their sins, and those for their afflictions. He observes them with tender concern. Every true believer may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and then I will not fear what man shall do unto me; for man has no power but what is given him from above. Thy vows are upon me, O Lord; not as a burden, but as that by which I am known to be thy servant; as a bridle that restrains me from what would be hurtful, and directs me in the way of my duty. And vows of thankfulness properly accompany prayers for mercy. If God deliver us from sin, either from doing it, or by his pardoning mercy, he has delivered our souls from death, which is the wages of sin. Where the Lord has begun a good work he will carry it on and perfect it. David hopes that God would keep him even from the appearance of sin. We should aim in all our desires and expectations of deliverance, both from sin and trouble, that we may do the better service to the Lord; that we may serve him without fear. If his grace has delivered our souls from the death of sin, he will bring us to heaven, to walk before him for ever in light.Thy vows are upon me, O God - The word "vow" means something promised; some obligation under which we have voluntarily brought ourselves. It differs from duty, or obligation in general, since that is the result of the divine command, while this is an obligation arising from the fact that we have "voluntarily" taken it upon ourselves. The extent of this obligation, therefore, is measured by the nature of the promise or vow which we have made; and God will hold us responsible for carrying out our vows. Such voluntary obligations or vows were allowable, as an expression of thanksgiving, or as a means of exciting to a more strict religious service, under the Mosaic dispensation Genesis 28:20; Numbers 6:2; Numbers 30:2-3; Deuteronomy 23:21; 1 Samuel 1:11; and they cannot be wrong under any dispensation. They are not of the nature of "merit," or works of supererogation, but they are

(a) a "means" of bringing the obligations of religion to bear upon us more decidedly, and

(b) a proper expression of gratitude.

Such vows are those which all persons take upon themselves when they make a profession of religion; and when such a profession of religion is made, it should be a constant reflection on our part, that "the vows of God are upon us," or that we have voluntarily consecrated all that we have to God. David had made such a vow

(a) in his general purpose to lead a religious life;

(b) very probably in some specific act or promise that he would devote himself to God if he would deliver him, or as an expression of his gratitude for deliverance. Compare the notes at Acts 18:18; notes at Acts 21:23-24.

I will render praises unto thee - literally, "I will recompense praises unto thee;" that is, I will "pay" what I have vowed, or I will faithfully perform my vows.

12. I will render praises—will pay what I have vowed. As I have prayed to thee, and am assured that thou wilt deliver me; so in confidence thereof I have made vows to express my gratitude to thee, and I acknowledge myself obliged and do resolve to perform them. Thy vows are upon me, O God,.... Which he had made to him in the time of his distress and trouble, and which he looked upon himself under obligation to perform; they were debts upon him he ought to pay off; they were with him; they were fresh in his mind and memory; he had not forgot them, which is often the case when trouble is over; and he found his heart inclined to make them good;

I will render praises unto thee; which explains what he meant by his vows; namely, sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord: when he was in distress, he had vowed and promised, that, if the Lord would deliver him, he would praise his name, and give him all the glory; and now he resolves to fulfil what he had promised.

{h} Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto thee.

(h) Having received that which I required, I am bound to pay my vows of thanksgiving as I promised.

12. Thy vows &c.] Vows made to Thee. The Psalmist acknowledges his obligations. Cp. Psalm 66:13; Acts 21:23.

praises] R.V., thank offerings, in addition to the votive offerings.

12, 13. Concluding vows of thanksgiving.Verses 12, 13. - The psalm ends with an expression of thankfulness to God for the deliverance, which is so confidently expected, that it is looked upon as assured, and even spoken of as past (ver. 13). Verse 12. - Thy vows are upon me, O God. The psalmist, under his affliction, has made vows to God; i.e. promises of thank offerings if God would come to his aid, and save him from his enemies. These vows he considers to be now due, and himself to be under the obligation of paying them. Accordingly, he announces his intention of speedily discharging his obligation - I will render praises (rather, thank offerings) unto thee. This second strophe describes the adversaries, and ends in imprecation, the fire of anger being kindled against them. Hitzig's rendering is: "All the time they are injuring my concerns," i.e., injuring my interests. This also sounds unpoetical. Just as we say חמס תורה, to do violence to the Tפra (Zephaniah 3:4; Ezekiel 22:26), so we can also say: to torture any one's words, i.e., his utterances concerning himself, viz., by misconstruing and twisting them. It is no good to David that he asseverates his innocence, that he asserts his filial faithfulness to Saul, God's anointed; they stretch his testimony concerning himself upon the rack, forcing upon it a false meaning and wrong inferences. They band themselves together, they place men in ambush. The verb גּוּר signifies sometimes to turn aside, turn in, dwell ( equals Arab. jâr); sometimes, to be afraid ( equals יגר, Arab. wjr); sometimes, to stir up, excite, Psalm 140:3 ( equals גּרה); and sometimes, as here, and in Psalm 59:4, Isaiah 54:15 : to gather together ( equals אגר). The Ker reads יצפּונוּ (as in Psalm 10:8; Proverbs 1:11), but the scriptio plena points to Hiph. (cf. Job 24:6, and also Psalm 126:5), and the following המּה leads one to the conclusion that it is the causative יצפּינוּ that is intended: they cause one to keep watch in concealment, they lay an ambush (synon. האריב, 1 Samuel 15:5); so that המה refers to the liers-in-wait told off by them: as to these - they observe my heels or (like the feminine plural in Psalm 77:20; Psalm 89:52) footprints (Rashi: mes traces), i.e., all my footsteps or movements, because (properly, "in accordance with this, that," as in Micah 3:4) they now as formerly (which is implied in the perfect, cf. Psalm 59:4) attempt my life, i.e., strive after, lie in wait for it (קוּה like שׁמר, Psalm 71:10, with the accusative equals קוּה ל in Psalm 119:95). To this circumstantial representation of their hostile proceedings is appended the clause על־עון פּלּט־למו, which is not to be understood otherwise than as a question, and is marked as such by the order of the words (2 Kings 5:26; Isaiah 28:28): In spite of iniquity [is there] escape for them? i.e., shall they, the liers-in-wait, notwithstanding such evil good-for-nothing mode of action, escape? At any rate פּלּט is, as in Psalm 32:7, a substantivized finitive, and the "by no means" which belongs as answer to this question passes over forthwith into the prayer for the overthrow of the evil ones. This is the customary interpretation since Kimchi's day. Mendelssohn explains it differently: "In vain be their escape," following Aben-Jachja, who, however, like Saadia, takes פלט to be imperative. Certainly adverbial notions are expressed by means of על, - e.g., על־יתר ,., abundantly, Psalm 31:24; על־שׁקר, falsely, Leviticus 5:22 (vid., Gesenius, Thesaurus, p. 1028), - but one does not say על־הבל, and consequently also would hardly have said על־און (by no means, for nothing, in vain); moreover the connection here demands the prevailing ethical notion for און. Hupfeld alters פלט to פּלּס, and renders it: "recompense to them for wickedness," which is not only critically improbable, but even contrary to the usage of the language, since פלס signifies to weigh out, but not to requite, and requires the accusative of the object. The widening of the circle of vision to the whole of the hostile world is rightly explained by Hengstenberg by the fact that the special execution of judgment on the part of God is only an outflow of His more general and comprehensive execution of judgment, and the belief in the former has its root in a belief in the latter. The meaning of הורד becomes manifest from the preceding Psalm (Psalm 55:24), to which the Psalm before us is appended by reason of manifold and closely allied relation.
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