Verse 1. - O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger. The psalmist begins by deprecating God's wrath and displeasure. He is conscious of some grievous sin, deserving rebuke and chastisement, and he does not ask to be spared his chastisement; but he would fain be chastised in love, not in anger (comp. Jeremiah 10:24, "O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing"). Neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure; or, in thy wrath. In its primary sense, humah (חמה) is no doubt "heat," "glow; ' but the secondary sense of "anger," "wrath," is quite as common.
Have mercy upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed.
Verse 2. - Have mercy upon me, O Lord; for I am weak; rather, I am faint, or languid - withered away, like a faded plant or flower. O Lord, heal me; for my bones are vexed. Bodily ailment seems certainly to be implied; but it is that sort of bodily ailment which is often produced by mental distress - a general languor, weariness, and distaste for exertion (comp. Psalm 22:14; Psalm 31:10; Psalm 38:3; Psalm 102:3).
My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O LORD, how long?
Verse 3. - My soul is also sore vexed. It is not, however, the body alone which suffers; the soul also is vexed, and vexed greatly (מְאֹד). Clearly the main emphasis is intended to be laid on the mental suffering. But thou, O Lord, how long! We may fill up the ellipse in various ways: "How long wilt thou look on?" "How long wilt thou hide thyself?" "How long wilt thou be angry?" (see Psalm 34:17; Psalm 79:5; Psalm 89:46). Or again, "How long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear?" (Habakkuk 1:2). The cry is that of one wearied out with long suffering (comp. Psalm 90:13).
Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake.
Verse 4. - Return, O Lord. God seemed to have withdrawn himself, to have, forsaken the mourner, and gone far away (comp. Psalm 22:1). Hence the cry, "Return" (comp. Psalm 80:14; Psalm 90:13). Nothing is so hard to endure as the feeling of being deserted by God. Deliver my soul. "The psalmist feels himself so wretched in soul and body, that he believes himself to be near death" (Hengstenberg). His prayer here is, primarily, for deliverance from this impending danger, as appears clearly from the following verse, Save me for thy mercys' sake. Either a repetition of the preceding prayer in other words, or an enlargement of it so as to include salvation of every kind.
For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?
Verse 5. - For in death there is no remembrance of thee (comp. Psalm 30:9; Psalm 88:11; Psalm 115:17; Psalm 118:17; Isaiah 38:18). The general view of the psalmists seems to have been that death was a cessation of the active service of God - whether for a time or permanently, they do not make clear to us. So even Hezekiah, in the passage of Isaiah above quoted. Death is represented as a sleep (Psalm 13:3), but whether there is an awakening from it does not appear. No doubt, as has been said ('Speaker's Commentary,' vol. 4. p. 182), "the cessation of active service, even of remembrance or devotion, does not affect the question of a future restoration," and the metaphor of sleep certainly suggests the idea of an awakening. But such a veil hung over the other world, under the old dispensation, and over the condition of the departed in it, that thought was scarcely exercised upon the subject. Men's duties in this life were what occupied them, and they did not realize that in another they would have employments - much less form any notion of what those employments would be. The grave seemed a place of silence, inaction, tranquillity. In the grave (Hebrew, in Sheol) who shall give thee thanks? (comp. Psalm 115:17, 18).
I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.
Verse 6. - I am weary - or, worn out (Kay) - with my groaning. The Oriental habit of giving vent to grief in loud lamentations must be remembered. Herodotus says that at the funeral of Masistias, the Persians present "vented their grief in such loud cries that all Boeotia resounded with the clement" (Herod., 9:24). All the night make I my bed to swim (comp. Homer, 'Od.,' 17:102, 103). The Revised Version has, "every night," which is a possible meaning. Dr. Kay translates, "I drench my bed." I water my couch with my tears. One of the usual pleonastic second clauses.
Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies.
Verse 7. - Mine eye is consumed because of grief; or, mine eye is wasted away because of provocation. The eye falls in, becomes dull, and, as it were, "wastes away" through long-continued grief (comp. Psalm 31:9). The kind of grief expressed by the word ka'as (כַעַס) is "that which arises from provocation or spiteful treatment" (Kay). It waxeth old because of all mine enemies. It becomes dull and heavy and sunken, like the eye of an old man. How often has it not been noted that nothing so much ages a man as grief!
Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the LORD hath heard the voice of my weeping.
Verse 8. - Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity! Note the sudden change of tone, very characteristic of the Davidical psalms. The psalmist, having offered his prayer, is so certain of its acceptance that he at once turns upon his adversaries with words of reproach, and almost of menace. "Depart from me!" he exclaims; "get ye gone! do not dare any more to persecute me or plot against me! Your efforts are in vain." For the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping. David speaks from an inward conviction. He knows that he has prayed sincerely and fervently. He is certain, therefore, that his prayer is heard and accepted.
The LORD hath heard my supplication; the LORD will receive my prayer.
Verse 9. - The Lord hath heard my supplication; the Lord will receive - rather, hath received; προσεδέξατο (LXX.) - my prayer. The threefold repetition marks the absoluteness of the psalmist's conviction.
Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed: let them return and be ashamed suddenly.
Verse 10. - Let all mine enemies be ashamed and sore vexed; rather, all mine enemies shall be ashamed and sore vexed (Rosenmuller, Kay, and others). Shame will fall upon David's enemies when their plots have failed, and deep vexation when they find him restored to health (ver. 4) and in the full enjoyment of the Divine favour. Lot them return; rather, they shall return; i.e. "retire... turn their backs," "take to flight." As Hengstenberg says, "David sees his enemies, who are gathered around him for the attack, all at once in alarm give way." And be ashamed suddenly. It is doubly shameful to have to fly when one has been the assailant.