Verse 1. - Preserve me, O God; i.e. keep me, guard me - protect me both in body and soul. It does not appear that the writer is threatened by any special danger. He simply calls upon God to continue his protecting care. For in thee do I put my trust. In thee, and in thee only. Therefore to thee only do I look for protection and preservation.
O my soul, thou hast said unto the LORD, Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee;
Verse 2. - O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord. The ordinary Hebrew text, אָמַרְתְּ, "thou hast said," requires the insertion of "O my soul," or something similar. But if we read אמרתי with a large number of manuscripts, with the LXX., the Vulgate, the Syriac, and most other versions, no insertion will be necessary. The meaning will then be, I have said to Jehovah. Thou art my Lord; Hebrew, adonai - "my Lord and Master." My goodness extendeth not to thee. This meaning cannot be elicited from the Hebrew words. Tobah is not "goodness," but "prosperity" or "happiness" (comp. Psalm 106:5); and 'aleyka is best explained as "beside thee," "beyond thee." The psalmist means to say that he has no happiness beside (or apart from) God. (So Ewald, Hengstenberg, Cheyne, the 'Speaker's Commentary,' and the Revised Version.)
But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight.
Verse 3. - But to the saints that are in the earth; rather, it is for the saints. It (i.e. my prosperity) is granted me for the advantage of the saints that are in the land; i.e. of all the true Israelites. "I hold it in trust for them" (Kay). And to (rather, for) the excellent, in whom is all my delight. And, especially, I hold it in trust for "the inner circle of the excellent ones," in whom God takes pleasure (Psalm 147:11), and in whom therefore I also "delight."
Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips.
Verse 4. - Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god. This is the only note of sadness in the entire psalm, and it is inserted to add force by contrast to the joyous outburst in ver. 5. If men would not cleave to Jehovah, but would "hasten after" - or perhaps it should be translated "wed themselves to" - another god (see Exodus 2:16, the only other place where the word occurs), then they must not expect "prosperity," or joy of any kind. Their "sorrows will be multiplied;" distress and anguish will come upon them (Proverbs 1:27); they will have to pay dear for their apostasy. Their drink offerings of blood will I not offer. Drink offerings of actual blood are not elsewhere mentioned in Scripture, and there is very little evidence of their having been offered by any of the heathen nations, though it is conjectured that they may have been employed in the worship of Moloch. It is therefore best to explain the expression, as here used, metaphorically, as drink offerings as hateful as if they had been of blood (comp. Isaiah 66:3). Nor take up their names into my lips. By "their names" we must understand the names which they used - those by which they called their gods. The Law forbade the mention of these names by Israelites (Exodus 23:13; Deuteronomy 12:3).
The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.
Verse 5. - The Lord is the Portion of mine inheritance. God had said to Aaron, when he gave him no special inheritance in Canaan, "I am thy Part and thine Inherit-ante among the children of Israel" (Numbers 18:20). David claims the same privilege. God is his "Portion," and he needs no other. And of my cup. A man's "cup" is, in Scripture, his lot or condition in life (Psalm 11:6; Psalm 23:5) - that which is given him to drink. David will have God only for his cup. Thou maintainest my lot; i.e. thou makest it firm and sure (comp. Psalm 30:6, "In my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved").
The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.
Verse 6. - The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places. The "lines" which marked out the place of his abode (comp. Deuteronomy 32:9; Joshua 17:5). These had fallen to him "in pleasant places" - in Jerusalem and its near vicinity. Yea, I have a goodly heritage. Some explain "heritage" here by the "inheritance" of ver. 5. But the word used is different; and it is most natural to understand David's earthly heritage, or lot in life. This, he says, is "pleasing" or "delightsome" to him.
I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.
Verse 7. - I will bless the Lord, who hath given his counsel. God has become David's "Counsellor" (see Psalm 32:8), makes suggestions to him which he follows, and so guides his life that he feels bound to praise and bless him for it. My reins also instruct me in the night seasons. The reins, according to Hebrew ideas, are the seat of feeling and emotion. David is "instructed" or "stimulated" (Hengstenberg) to bless God by the feelings which stir within him as he lies awake at night - feelings, we must suppose, of affection and gratitude.
I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Verse 8. - I have set the Lord always before me. I have brought myself, that is, to realize the continual presence of God, alike in happiness and in trouble. I feel him to be ever with me. Because he is at my right hand (i.e. close to me, ready to protect and save), therefore I shall not be moved. Nothing will shake me or disturb me from my trust and confidence.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.
Verse 9. - Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth. The thought of God's continual presence at his right hand causes David's "heart" to be "glad," and his "glory" - i.e. his soul, or spirit (Genesis 49:6), man's true glory - to rejoice. My flesh also shall rest in hope. His "flesh" - his corporeal nature, united closely with his "heart" and "spirit" - rests, and will rest, secure, confident that God will watch over it, and make the whole complex man - body, soul, and spirit - to "dwell in safety" (Psalm 4:8).
For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Verse 10. - For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; literally, to Sheol, or "to Hades." The confidence in a future life shown here is beyond that exhibited by Job. Job hopes that he may not always remain in Hades, but may one day experience a "change" or "renewal" (Job 14:14); David is certain that his soul will not be left in hell. Hell (Sheol) is to him an "intermediate state," through which a man passes between his life in this world and his final condition in some blest abode. Neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. The present Hebrew text has חסידיך, "thy holy ones," i.e. thy saints generally; but the majority, of the manuscripts, all the ancient versions, and even the Hebrew revised text (the Keri) have the word in the singular number, thus agreeing with Acts 2:27, 31; Acts 13:35, which give us the translation, τὸν ὄσιον σου, and declare the psalmist to have spoken determinately of Christ. Certainly he would not have spoken of himself as "God's holy one." The translation of shachath (שָׁחַת) by "corruption" has been questioned, and it has been rendered "the pit," or "the grave," but quite gratuitously. The LXX. have διαφθορὰν as the equivalent; and the rabbinical commentators, giving it the same meaning, but expounding it of David, invented the myth that David's body was miraculously preserved from corruption.
Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
Verse 11. - Thou wilt show me the path of life; i.e. the path which leads to the Source and Centre of all life, even God himself - the way to heaven, in contrast with corruption and Sheol. In thy presence is fulness of joy; literally, satiety of joy - enough, and more than enough, to satisfy the extremest cravings of the human heart. At thy right hand; rather, in thy right hand - ready for bestowal on thy saints. Are pleasures for evermore. An inexhaustible store, which may be drawn upon for ever.