Psalm 86:2
Preserve my soul; for I am holy: O you my God, save your servant that trusts in you.
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(2) For I am holy.—Rather, in order to reproduce the feeling, for I am one of the chosen ones; one of Thy saints, &c. He pleads the covenant relation as a claim to the blessing. (See, on chasid, Note, Psalm 1:5.)

Psalm 86:2. Preserve my soul, for I am holy — Sanctified in some measure by thy grace, and sincerely devoted to thy service. Hebrew, אני חסיד, ani chasid, I am good, merciful, or pious. Show that mercy to me which I am willing and ready to show to others. This David mentions, not in a way of vain ostentation, but as an argument to move God to answer his prayers, because he was one of that sort of men whose prayers God had engaged himself, by his promise and covenant, to hear; and partly by way of just and necessary vindication of himself from the censures of his enemies, who represented him to the world as a dissembler, and secretly a very wicked man; concerning which he here makes a solemn appeal to God, desiring audience and help from him upon no other condition than that he was truly upright and righteous before him. Which, by the way, manifests no more arrogance than when he elsewhere professes his great love to, and longing after, God; his sincere obedience to all God’s commands, and his hatred of every false way, and the like.86:1-7 Our poverty and wretchedness, when felt, powerfully plead in our behalf at the throne of grace. The best self-preservation is to commit ourselves to God's keeping. I am one whom thou favourest, hast set apart for thyself, and made partaker of sanctifying grace. It is a great encouragement to prayer, to feel that we have received the converting grace of God, have learned to trust in him, and to be his servants. We may expect comfort from God, when we keep up our communion with God. God's goodness appears in two things, in giving and forgiving. Whatever others do, let us call upon God, and commit our case to him; we shall not seek in vain.Preserve my soul - Preserve, or keep, my life; for so the word rendered soul means in this place, as it does commonly in the Scriptures.

For I am holy - Margin, "One whom thou favorest." The Hebrew word - חסיד châsı̂yd - means properly, benevolent, kind; then, good, merciful, gracious; and then pious, godly. Psalm 30:4; Psalm 31:23; Psalm 37:28. The ground of the plea here is, that he was a friend of God; and that it was proper on that account to look to him for protection. He does not say that he was holy in such a sense that he had a claim on that account to the favor of God, or that his personal holiness was a ground of salvation; but the idea is, that he had devoted himself to God, and that it was, therefore, proper to look to him for his protection in the time of danger. A child looks to a parent for protection, because he is a child; a citizen looks to the protection of the laws, because he is a citizen; and so the people of God may look to him for protection, because they are his people. In all this there is no plea of merit, but there is the recognition of what is proper in the case, and what may he expected and hoped for.

Save thy servant - Save him from threatening danger and from death.

That trusteth in thee - Because I trust or confide in thee. I go nowhere else for protection; I rely on no one else. I look to thee alone, and I do this with entire confidence. A man who does this has a right to look to God for protection, and to expect that God will interpose in his behalf.


Ps 86:1-17. This is a prayer in which the writer, with deep emotion, mingles petitions and praises, now urgent for help, and now elated with hope, in view of former mercies. The occurrence of many terms and phrases peculiar to David's Psalms clearly intimates its authorship.

1, 2. poor and needy—a suffering child of God, as in Ps 10:12, 17; 18:27.

I am holy—or, "godly," as in Ps 4:3; 85:8.

I am holy; sanctified in some measure by thy grace, and sincerely devoted to thy service. This David speaks, not in a way of vain ostentation, but partly as a powerful argument to move God to hear his prayers, because he was one of that sort of men to whom God had engaged himself by his promise and covenant; and partly by way of just and necessary vindication of himself from the censures of his enemies, who represented him to the world as a gross dissembler, and secretly a very wicked man; concerning which he here makes a solemn appeal to God, desiring audience and help from God upon no other terms than upon this supposition, that he was a holy man; which, by the way, savoureth of no more arrogancy than when he elsewhere professeth his great love to and longing after God, his sincere obedience to all God’s commands, and his hatred of every false way, and the like.

My God, by thy covenant and my own choice.

That trusteth in thee; whereby thou seemest obliged in honour and by promise to help me. Preserve my soul,.... Or life, which Saul sought after; and this prayer was heard: David was often remarkably preserved by the Lord from his attempts upon him; and so was the soul or life of Christ preserved in his infancy from Herod's malice; in the wilderness from wild beasts, and from perishing with hunger; and often from the designs of the Jews, to take away his life before his time; and he was supported in death, preserved from corruption in the grave, and raised from thence: instances there are of his praying for the preservation of his life, with submission to the will of God, in which he was heard, Matthew 26:39. The Lord is not only the preserver of the lives of men in a temporal sense, but he is the preserver of the souls of his people, their more noble part, whose redemption is precious; he keeps them from the evil of sin, and preserves them safe to his kingdom and glory; yea, their whole soul, body, and spirit, are preserved by him blameless, unto the coming of Christ:

for I am holy; quite innocent, as to the crime that was laid to his charge by Saul and his courtiers; or was kind, beneficent, and merciful, to others, and to such God shows himself merciful, they obtain mercy: or was favoured of God, to whom he had been bountiful, on whom he had bestowed many mercies and blessings; and therefore desires and hopes that, to the rest of favours, this of preservation might be added; or, as he was a sanctified person, and God had begun his work of grace in him, he therefore entreats the Lord would preserve him, and perfect his own work in him: some, as Aben Ezra observes, would have the sense to be,

"keep my soul until I am holy:''

so Arama interprets it,

"keep me unto the world to come, where all are holy:''

the character of an Holy One eminently and perfectly agrees with Christ, as well as the petition; see Psalm 16:1.

O thou, my God, save thy servant that trusteth in thee; both temporally and spiritually: the arguments are taken from covenant interest in God, which is a strong one; from relation to him as a servant, not by nature only, but by grace; and from his trust and confidence in him; all which, as well as the petition, agree with Christ; see Psalm 22:1.

Preserve my soul; for I am {b} holy: O thou my God, save thy servant that trusteth in thee.

(b) I am not an enemy to them, but I pity them even though they are cruel to me.

2. Preserve my soul] = Psalm 25:20.

for I am holy] R.V. godly fails to bring out the connexion of the word with chesed, ‘lovingkindness’ (Psalm 86:5; Psalm 86:13; Psalm 86:15). Cheyne gives duteous in love. But the passive sense beloved, ‘the object of thy loving-kindness,’ is far more suitable. He pleads not his own merits, but the covenant relation into which God has brought him as an Israelite. See on Psalm 50:5; Psalm 85:8.Verse 2. - Preserve my soul. It is one of the special offices of God to "preserve the souls of his saints" (Psalm 97:10). He is not only man's Creator, but his "Preserver" (Job 7:20; Job 10:12). For I am holy. The psalmist does not mean to claim for himself perfect holiness, but only that sincerity in religion which God's servants may rightly vindicate to themselves. O thou my God, save thy servant that trusteth in thee (comp, Psalm 34:22; Psalm 37:40). The prayer is followed by attention to the divine answer, and by the answer itself. The poet stirs himself up to give ear to the words of God, like Habakkuk, Habakkuk 2:1. Beside אשׁמעה we find the reading אשׁמעה, vid., on Psalm 39:13. The construction of האל ה is appositional, like המּלך דּוד, Ges. 113. כּי neither introduces the divine answer in express words, nor states the ground on which he hearkens, but rather supports the fact that God speaks from that which He has to speak. Peace is the substance of that which He speaks to His people, and that (the particularizing Waw) to His saints; but with the addition of an admonition. אל is dehortative. It is not to be assumed in connection with this ethical notion that the ah of לכסלה is the locative ah as in לשׁאולה, Psalm 9:18. כּסלה is related to כּסל like foolery to folly. The present misfortune, as is indicated here, is the merited consequence of foolish behaviour (playing the fool). In Psalm 85:10. the poet unfolds the promise of peace which he has heard, just as he has heard it. What is meant by ישׁעו is particularized first by the infinitive, and then in perfects of actual fact. The possessions that make a people truly happy and prosperous are mentioned under a charming allegory exactly after Isaiah's manner, Isaiah 32:16., Isaiah 45:8; Isaiah 59:14. The glory that has been far removed again takes up its abode in the land. Mercy or loving-kindness walks along the streets of Jerusalem, and there meets fidelity, like one guardian angel meeting the other. Righteousness and peace or prosperity, these two inseparable brothers, kiss each other there, and fall lovingly into each other's arms.

(Note: Concerning St. Bernard's beautiful parable of the reconciliation of the inviolability of divine threatening and of justice with mercy and peace in the work of redemption, which has grown out of this passage of the Psalms, Misericordia et veritas obviaverunt sibi, justitia et pax osculatae sunt, and has been transferred to the painting, poetry, and drama of the middle ages, vid., Piper's Evangelischer Kalender, 1859, S. 24-34, and the beautiful miniature representing the ἀσπασμός of δικαιοσύνη and εἰρήνη of a Greek Psalter, 1867, S. 63.)

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