Verse 1. - Blessed is he that considereth the poor. David had concluded the preceding psalm by calling himself "poor and needy." He commences the present one by pronouncing a blessing on all those who "consider," or tenderly regard, and, so far as they can, assist the peer and afflicted. It is not so much actual poverty, as humiliation and weakness, of which he is speaking. The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble; literally, in the day of evil. As he has pity on his fellow-men, so God will have pity upon him (comp. Matthew 6:14, 15; Matthew 10:42; Matthew 18:33; Proverbs 19:17; Ecclesiastes 11:1, etc.).
The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies.
Verse 2. - The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive. Continuance in life is always regarded as a blessing in the Old Testament; it is only in the New that to "depart, and be with Christ," is pronounced "far better" (Philippians 1:23). And he shall be blessed upon the earth; i.e. his long life shall be a happy one. And thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies; rather, as in the margin, do not thou deliver him (comp. Psalm 27:12; Psalm 74:19). The psalmist changes from dogmatic assertion to prayer, not, however, intending to express any doubt that his prayer will be granted.
The LORD will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.
Verse 3. - The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing. If he falls into a sickness, God will support him through it. Thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness; literally, thou wilt turn all his bed; i.e. rearrange it, turn its cushions, make it such that he can comfortably lie on it (see Kay, who quotes Bellarmine). Others understand, "Thou wilt change his couch from one of sickness to one of convalescence."
I said, LORD, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee.
Verse 4. - I said; rather, as for me, I said. The writer pointedly marks that he turns here from considering the blessedness of the compassionate man to contemplation of his own case - his afflictions and sufferings. Lord, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee. The worst of all his woes - the root and origin of them all - fons et origo mall, is his own sinfulness. Unless that is cured, all other alleviation is vain. Hence, after the first general cry for mercy, he goes to the root of the matter, "Heal my soul." There, within me, in the depths of my nature, is the worst malady. Heal that, and soon all will be well with me.
Mine enemies speak evil of me, When shall he die, and his name perish?
Verse 5. - Mine enemies speak evil of me. Another head of suffering, viz. misrepresentation, calumny, abuse, on the part of enemies. Absalom had stolen away the hearts of the children of Israel from David by misrepresenting him (2 Samuel 15:3, 4). Shimei had followed the example, adding to his misrepresentation abuse and cursing (2 Samuel 16:5-8). Absalom's aiders and abettors generally, no doubt, joined in the chorus. This, then, is David's second subject of complaint, and one that he felt keenly - his enemies spoke evil of him. Farther, they desired and anticipated his death. When (they said) shall he die, and his name perish? David evidently was, or had been, when his enemies thus spoke, on the bed of sickness, prostrate, and in danger of his life. While he thus suffered, they rejoiced, expecting his early demise. When he was dead, they intended that his name should "perish;" i.e. that his memory should be utterly rooted out.
And if he come to see me, he speaketh vanity: his heart gathereth iniquity to itself; when he goeth abroad, he telleth it.
Verse 6. - And if he come to see me, he speaketh vanity; rather, he speaketh falsehood (see the comment on Psalm 12:2). It is suggested that Ahithophel is especially aimed at. But there is no proof of this. All the enemies are probably intended, only distributively instead of collectively. His heart gathereth iniquity to itself. Dr. Kay's comment is, "He makes a show of friendship, using hollow compliments; but he is treasuring up every expression as material for misrepresentation." When he goeth abroad, he telleth it. He reports what he has seen and heard, but untruly.
All that hate me whisper together against me: against me do they devise my hurt.
Verse 7. - All that hate me whisper together against me; i.e. gather themselves into knots, and hold whispered conversations about me - as conspirators are apt to do. Against me do they devise my hurt; literally, hurt to me.
An evil disease, say they, cleaveth fast unto him: and now that he lieth he shall rise up no more.
Verse 8. - An evil disease (literally, a thing of Belial), say they, cleaveth fast unto him. (On the meaning of "Belial," see the comment on Psalm 18:4.) The "thing of Belial" here intended may, perhaps, be the disease from which David was suffering, but is more probably some disgraceful charge or infamous calumny which had been circulated concerning him, and was now crushing him down. This calumny is represented as poured out upon him like a coating of molten metal (see Job 41:23, 24), and so cleaving to him. And now that he lieth; i.e. "now that he is prostrate upon a sick-bed." He shall rise up no more. He shall not recover, but die of his malady.
Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.
Verse 9. - Yea, mine own familiar friend (literally, the man of my peace), in whom I trusted. Here Ahithophel is almost certainly intended. He is called "the man of my peace," since he was one of David's official counsellors (2 Samuel 15:12), and consequently on the most friendly terms with him (comp. Psalm 55:13, 14). Which did eat of my bread. At Oriental courts, the king's counsellors, together with many other members of the court, habitually" eat at the king's table" (comp. 2 Samuel 9:7-13; 1 Kings 4:23, 27; 1 Kings 18:19; Nehemiah 5:17; Esther 1:10, 11; Esther 3:15, etc.). Hath lifted up his heel against me. (For Ahithophel's defection from David, and share in Absalom's conspiracy, see 2 Samuel 15:12, 31; 2 Samuel 16:15-23; 2 Samuel 17:1-23.) His conduct is here compared to that of a vicious horse, which kicks his own master. (For the relation of type and antitype between Ahithophel and Judas, see John 15:18.)
But thou, O LORD, be merciful unto me, and raise me up, that I may requite them.
Verse 10. - But thou, O Lord, be merciful unto me (comp. ver. 4). The writer passes from complaint to prayer, and once more calls on God to deliver him. And raise me up. Falsify the prediction of my enemies (ver. 8); raise me up from my sick-bed, and re-establish me in a position of authority. That I may requite them. This was not private revenge, but David's duty as a king (Romans 13:4).
By this I know that thou favourest me, because mine enemy doth not triumph over me.
Verse 11. - By this I know that thou favourest me; or, delightest in me (comp. Psalm 18:19; Psalm 22:8; 2 Samuel 15:26). Because mine enemy doth not triumph over me. David's enemies had not triumphed over him, and he felt assured that they would not be allowed to triumph. This assurance was so strong that he could make it an argument on which to ground his belief that God" delighted in him." David argues from effect to cause.
And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity, and settest me before thy face for ever.
Verse 12. - And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity (comp. Psalm 26:1, and the comment ad loc.). And settest me before thy face for ever. So that there falls upon me the light of thy countenance (comp. Psalm 4:6). The expression, "for ever," is remarkable in this connection, and may be fairly taken as indicating a hope of immortality (comp. Psalm 16:11; Psalm 17:15; Psalm 23:6; Psalm 30:12).
Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. Amen, and Amen.
Verse 13. - Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting and to everlasting. Amen, and Amen. A similar doxology occurs at the end of Psalm 72, 89, and Psalms 106, not (apparently) as part of the psalm to which it is attached, but as a mark of pause and separation. The Psalter is thus divided into five books (comp. Hippolyt., p. 153, edit. Lagarde, "TheHebrews divided the Psalter into five books, so that it is another Pentateuch").