Psalm 56:4
In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do to me.
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(4) In God.—This verse, which forms the refrain (Psalm 56:11-12 are wrongly separated), is as it stands hardly intelligible, and the text is rendered suspicious by the fact that the LXX. read “my words,” instead of “his word,” and by the omission of the suffix altogether in Psalm 56:11, where the first clause of the refrain is doubled. The obvious treatment of the verse is to take the construction as in Psalm 44:8, “I praise God with my word,” i.e., in spite of all my enemies I find words to praise God.

I will not.—Rather, I fear not What can flesh do?

56:1-7 Be merciful unto me, O God. This petition includes all the good for which we come to throne of grace. If we obtain mercy there, we need no more to make us happy. It implies likewise our best plea, not our merit, but God's mercy, his free, rich mercy. We may flee to, and trust the mercy of God, when surrounded on all sides by difficulties and dangers. His enemies were too hard for him, if God did not help him. He resolves to make God's promises the matter of his praises, and so we have reason to make them. As we must not trust an arm of flesh when engaged for us, so we must not be afraid of an arm of flesh when stretched out against us. The sin of sinners will never be their security. Who knows the power of God's anger; how high it can reach, how forcibly it can strike?In God I will praise his word - The meaning of this seems to be, "In reference to God - or, in my trust on God - I will especially have respect to his "word" - his gracious promise; I will make that the special object of my praise. In dwelling in my own mind on the divine perfections; in finding there materials for praise, I will have special respect to his revealed truth - to what he has "spoken" as an encouragement to me. I will be thankful that he "has" spoken, and that he has given me assurances on which I may rely in the times of danger." The idea is, that he would "always" find in God that which was the ground or foundation for praise; and that that which called for special praise in meditating on the divine character, was the word or promise which God had made to his people.

I will not fear what flesh can do unto me - What man can do to me. Compare the notes at Matthew 10:28 (notes); Romans 8:31-34 (notes); Hebrews 13:6 (notes).

4. in God … his word—By His grace or aid (Ps 60:12; 108:13), or, "I will boast in God as to His word"; in either case His word is the special matter and cause of praise.

flesh—for mankind (Ps 65:2; Isa 31:3), intimating frailty.

In God I will praise his word: the sense is, either,

1. I will praise or boast in the Lord’s word, or the Lord for his word. Or,

2. With or by the Lord (i.e. by his favour or help) I will praise his word. Or rather,

3. This, as I humbly conceive: There are many things to be praised and celebrated in God, his power and wisdom, &c.; but amongst all, and above all, I shall at this time praise him for his word, which he hath magnified above all his name, as is said, Psalm 138:2, even for his promises of protection and deliverance made to his people in all their exigencies, and particularly and especially for that promise of the kingdom made to me; for which I will now praise him, because I am as sure of its accomplishment as if I had it already in mine hand.

Flesh; infirm and mortal men, altogether unable to oppose thy infinite Majesty; called flesh by way of contempt, as Psalm 78:39 Isaiah 31:3 Jeremiah 17:5. In God I will praise his word,.... Or praise him for his words for the whole Scripture that was then in being; for those testimonies which were David's counsellors in times of difficulty and distress; and particularly for some word of promise made unto him, he was persuaded would be fulfilled, and in which he gloried and made his boast of, and on which his faith and hope were built; and this he did, and determined to do, in the strength of the Lord, and by the assistance of his grace;

in God I have put my trust; either in times past, and was not ashamed or confounded; or now, as he determined he would in Psalm 56:3;

I will not fear what flesh can do unto me: or continue to fear any or all of my enemies; though I have been afraid of them, I will shake off these fears, trusting in the Lord, and depending on his word. Or, "what can flesh do unto me?" (t) which is as grass, and the goodliness thereof as the flower of the field. Poor, frail, mortal man! what can he do against me, if God be for me? And therefore why should I fear? Men may contrive schemes, form weapons, and attempt many things against the saints, but can execute nothing, except permitted by the Lord; and the utmost they can do, when suffered, is to kill the body.

(t) So Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis.

In God I will praise his {c} word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.

(c) He stays his conscience on God's promise though he sees no present help.

4. in God I will praise his word] In God’s strength, by the help of His grace, I shall be enabled to praise His words of promise (Psalm 130:5). Cp. Psalm 44:8. This rendering is preferable to the possible alternative, In God do I make my boast, even in his word.

in God &c.] R.V., In God have I put my trust, I will not be afraid; what can flesh do unto me? Flesh, synonymous with man in Psalm 56:11, denotes man on the material side of his nature, as a frail and perishable being, contrasted with God the Eternal and Almighty. Cp. Psalm 78:39; Genesis 6:3; Job 10:4; Isaiah 40:5-6; Jeremiah 17:5.Verse 4. ? In God I will praise his word; rather, through God; i.e. "with God's help, by his grace," I am ready to praise whatever sentence he pronounces, whatever flat goes forth from him. In God I have put my trust (so again, ver. 11). This is at once the refrain and the keynote of the psalm. In all dangers, in all troubles, whatever happens, whatever seems to be impending, the psalmist will never relinquish his trust in the Almighty. I will not fear what flesh can do unto me. This is the true martyr spirit. Compare our Lord's words, "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both body and soul in hell" (Matthew 10:28). In spite of this interruption and the accompanying clashing in of the music. אשׁר .ci with its dependent clause continues the ויאנם, more minutely describing those whom God will answer in His wrath. The relative clause at the same time gives the ground for this their fate from the character they bear: they persevere in their course without any regard to any other in their godlessness. The noun חליפה, which is used elsewhere of a change of clothes, of a reserve in time of war, of a relief of bands of workmen, here signifies a change of mind (Targum), as in Job 14:14 a change of condition; the plural means that every change of this kind is very far from them. In Psalm 55:21 David again has the one faithless foe among the multitude of the rebels before his mind. שׁלמיו is equivalent to שׁלמים אתּו, Genesis 34:21, those who stood in peaceful relationship to him (שׁלום, Psalm 41:10). David classes himself with his faithful adherents. בּרית is here a defensive and offensive treaty of mutual fidelity entered into in the presence of God. By שׁלח and חלּל is meant the intention which, though not carried out as yet, is already in itself a violation and profanation of the solemn compact. In Psalm 55:22 the description passes into the tone of the caesural schema. It is impossible for מחמאת, so far as the vowels are concerned, to be equivalent to מחמאות, since this change of the vowels would obliterate the preposition; but one is forbidden to read מחמאות (Targum, Symmachus, Jerome) by the fact that פּיו (lxx τοῦ προσώπου αὐτοῦ, as in Proverbs 2:6) cannot be the subject to חלקוּ. Consequently מ belongs to the noun itself, and the denominative מחמאות (from חמאה), like מעדנּות (from עדן), dainties, signifies articles of food prepared from curdled milk; here it is used figuratively of "milk-words" or "butter-words" which come from the lips of the hypocrite softly, sweetly, and supplely as cream: os nectar promit, mens aconita vomit. In the following words וּקרב־לבּו (וּקרב) the Makkeph (in connection with which it would have to be read ukerob just the same as in Psalm 55:19, since the - has not a Metheg) is to be crossed out (as in fact it is even wanting here and there in MSS and printed editions). The words are an independent substantival clause: war (קרב, a pushing together, assault, battle, after the form כּתב mrof eh with an unchangeable â) is his inward part and his words are swords; these two clauses correspond. רכּוּ (properly like Arab. rkk, to be thin, weak, then also: to be soft, mild; root רך, רק, tendere, tenuare) has the accent on the ultima, vid., on Psalm 38:20. פּתיחה is a drawn, unsheathed sword (Psalm 37:14).

The exhortation, Psalm 55:23, which begins a new strophe and is thereby less abrupt, is first of all a counsel which David gives to himself, but at the same time to all who suffer innocently, cf. Psalm 27:14. Instead of the obscure ἅπαξ γεγραμ. יהבך, we read in Psalm 37:5 דרכך, and in Proverbs 16:3 מעשׂיך, according to which the word is not a verb after the form ידעך (Chajug', Gecatilia, and Kimchi), but an accusative of the object (just as it is in fact accented; for the Legarme of יהוה has a lesser disjunctive value than the Zinnor of יהבך). The lxx renders it ἐπίῤῥιψον ἐπὶ κύριον τὴν μέριμνάν σου. Thus are these words of the Psalm applied in 1 Peter 5:7. According to the Talmud יהב (the same form as קרב) signifies a burden. "One day," relates Rabba bar-Chana, B. Rosh ha-Shana, 26b, and elsewhere, "I was walking with an Arabian (Nabataean?) tradesman, and happened to be carrying a heavy pack. And he said to me, שׁקיל יהביך ושׁדי אגמלאי, Take thy burden and throw it on my camel." Hence it is wiser to refer יהב to יהב, to give, apportion, than to a stem יהב equals יאב, Psalm 119:131 (root אב, או), to desire; so that it consequently does not mean desiring, longing, care, but that which is imposed, laid upon one, assigned or allotted to one (Bttcher), in which sense the Chaldee derivatives of יהב (Targum Psalm 11:6; Psalm 16:5, for מנת) do actually occur. On whomsoever one casts what is allotted to him to carry, to him one gives it to carry. The admonition proceeds on the principle that God is as willing as He is able to bear even the heaviest burden for us; but this bearing it for us is on the other side our own bearing of it in God's strength, and hence the promise that is added runs: He will sustain thee (כּלכּל), that thou mayest not through feebleness succumb. Psalm 55:23 also favours this figure of a burden: He will not give, i.e., suffer to happen (Psalm 78:66), tottering to the righteous for ever, He will never suffer the righteous to totter. The righteous shall never totter (or be moved) with the overthrow that follows; whereas David is sure of this, that his enemies shall not only fall to the ground, but go down into Hades (which is here, by a combination of two synonyms, בּאר שׁחת, called a well, i.e., an opening, of a sinking in, i.e., a pit, as e.g., in Proverbs 8:31; Ezekiel 36:3), and that before they have halved their days, i.e., before they have reached the half of the age that might be attained under other circumstances (cf. Psalm 102:25; Jeremiah 16:11). By ואתּה אלהים prominence is given to the fact that it is the very same God who will not suffer the righteous to fall who casts down the ungodly; and by ואני David contrasts himself with them, as being of good courage now and in all time to come.

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