Verse 1. - Hear my cry, O God (see the comment on Psalm 17:1). The word rinnah expresses a shrill, piercing cry, but one which may be of joy or of lamentation. Attend unto my prayer; i.e. "hear and answer it."
From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
Verse 2. - From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee. Eastern hyperbole may call the Trans-Jordanic territory "the end of the earth," but certainly the expression would be more natural in the mouth of an exile in Assyria, Media, or Babylon. When my heart is overwhelmed; or, "when my heart fainteth" (comp. Psalm 107:5). Lead me to the rock that is higher than I; rather, that is too high for me - that I cannot reach unaided. Some regard the "rock" as Mount Zion; but others, more reasonably, explain it as "God himself" (see Psalm 62:2, 6, 7). "Let thy grace lead me to thee" (Kay).
For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.
Verse 3. - For thou hast been a Shelter for me. In the past thou hast often been my "Shelter" or my "Refuge" (comp. Psalm 18:2; Psalm 44:7, 11; Psalm 48:3, etc.); be so once more. And a strong Tower. A migdal - a fortress, like the great fortress of the south (Exodus 14:2) - the Magdolus of Herodotus (2:149). From the enemy. If the psalm is David's, "the enemy" is probably Absalom.
I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.
Verse 4. - I will abide in thy tabernacle forever. As the psalmist is in exile, at "the end of the earth" (ver. 2), the literal "tabernacle" cannot be intended. A spiritual abiding in the heavenly dwelling, whereof the tabernacle was a type, must be meant (comp. Psalm 18:11). I will trust in the covert of thy wings (comp. Psalm 17:8; Psalm 36:7; Psalm 57:1; Psalm 63:7; Psalm 91:4). The origin of the metaphor is hardly to be sought in the outspread wings of the cherubim on the mercy seat; rather in the brooding wings of birds protecting and defending their young (Deuteronomy 32:11; Matthew 23:37).
For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name.
Verse 5. - For thou, O God, hast heard my vows. Thou hast heard me so often in the past, thou hast granted so many of my prayers, accepted so many of my vows, that I am emboldened to make further requests. Thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy Name. All the blessed inheritance of thy saints thou hast made mine, and, included in it, boldness to approach the throne of grace in full assurance of faith, and to present to thee my petitions.
Thou wilt prolong the king's life: and his years as many generations.
Verse 6. - Thou wilt prolong (or, mayest thou prolong) the king's life. The question arises - What king? Some answer that David prays for the extension of his own life; or, if not exactly of his own life, then for the prolongation of his dynasty upon the throne (Hengstenberg); others suggest that a distant exile, perhaps in Assyria, prays for the life of the reigning King of Judah, Josiah probably ('Four Friends,' p. 117); but the Messianic interpretation is perhaps the best. The writer, lifted up above himself and above sublunary things, abiding, as he does, in the spiritual tabernacle under the shelter of God's wings (ver. 4), prays for long continuance of days for the true King, the ideal King, Messiah, of whom David and his house are types: "Mayest thou add days to the days of the King," and make his years as many generations; or, as generation and generation; i.e. eternally continuous.
He shall abide before God for ever: O prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him.
Verse 7. - He shall abide (or, may he abide) before God forever: O prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him; literally, appoint that mercy and truth may preserve him. Let "mercy and truth," the highest of thy attributes, preserve him, and keep him in life forever.
So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows.
Verse 8. - So will I sing praise unto thy Name forever. This, if thou doest, then I, for my part, so long as I have my being, will praise thy Name, thus performing day by day what I have vowed. The writer's continuance in life, and retention of consciousness, though not actually asserted, is implied.