Verse 1. - Truly my soul waiteth upon God; rather, my soul waiteth only upon God (Revised Version). The initial word, ak (אַך), which occurs six times in this psalm (vers. 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 9), is best translated "only" in every instance. It always intensifies the word or phrase to which it is attached - "only upon God" - "only he" - "only from his excellency" - "only vanity." From him cometh my salvation (comp. Psalm 35:3; Psalm 37:39; Psalm 65:5, etc.).
He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved.
Verse 2. - He only is my Rock (comp. Psalm 61:2, and the comment ad loc.). And my Salvation (so Psalm 18:2; Psalm 27:1; Psalm 118:14, 21). He is my Defence; or, my High Tower, my Strong Hold. I shall not be greatly moved. Comp. ver. 6, where, with still greater confidence, the waiter declares, "I shall not be moved," i.e. not moved, or shaken in my faith, at all.
How long will ye imagine mischief against a man? ye shall be slain all of you: as a bowing wall shall ye be, and as a tottering fence.
Verse 3. - How long will ye imagine mischief agaiust a man? rather, How long will ye assault (or, set upon) a man? Attack him, that is - seek to do him grievous hurt, as ye are attacking me. Ye shall be slain all of you; rather, that ye may crush him, all of you together. The hope of the conspirators under Absalom was in their united strength. As a bowing wall shall ye be, and as a tottering fence. The words supplied in the Authorized Version should be omitted. It is David who is viewed by his enemies as a bulged wall (see Isaiah 30:15) or a tottering fence, which it requires only a strong push to throw down.
They only consult to cast him down from his excellency: they delight in lies: they bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly. Selah.
Verse 4. - They only consult to cast him down from his excellency; i.e. they have no other thought but this - to cast me down from my high station, while I have no other thought but to trust in God, and to look to him for support and protection (vers. 1, 2, 6). They delight in lies. Some indication of the "lies" circulated against David at this Time is given in 2 Samuel 15:3-5; 2 Samuel 16:7, 8. They bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly; literally, they bless with his mouth, which may be explained as meaning either, "They bless, each of them, with his mouth" (Kay, Cheyne), or "they Bless through the mouth of their leader " - i.e. Ahithophel (Canon Cook).
My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.
Verses 5-8. - From the thought of his bitter enemies and their wicked machinations against him, the psalmist returns to expressions of his own full confidence in God - first falling back on almost the identical words of his opening stanza (comp. vers. 5, 6 with vers. 1, 2); then slightly varying them (ver. 7); and finally commending trust and confidence to the remnant of the people who continue faithful to God and to his anointed (ver. 8). Verse 5. - My soul, wait thou only upon God. Compare the opening words of the psalm, which are nearly identical. For my expectation is from him. "Expectation" here takes the place of "salvation" in ver. 1. Otherwise there is no difference. The God who has given salvation in the past is the Being from whom it is expected in the future.
He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved.
Verse 6. - He only is my Rock and my Salvation; he is my Defence; I shall not be moved. Identical with ver. 2, except in the omission of the single word "greatly." The psalmist's confidence has increased. He feels now that, whatever his enemies may attempt, he will not be shaken at all.
In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.
Verse 7. - In God is my salvation and my glory. The last phrase is new. The psalmist feels that the God who saves him, at the same time sheds on him glory and honour. The Rock of my strength, and my Refuge, is in God (comp. Psalm 9:9; Psalm 57:2; Psalm 94:22, etc.).
Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.
Verse 8. - Trust in him at all times, ye people. It is characteristic of David to join the "people" with himself in all his fears and in all his hopes. Even at the worst times, God had always some faithful ones in Israel - a "remnant" (Isaiah 1:9); and men of this sort clung to David through all his perils, and were sufficiently numerous to constitute a "people" (see 2 Samuel 18:1-6). Pour out your heart before him (comp. Psalm 42:4; Psalm 142:2, etc.): God is a Refuge for us (comp. ver. 7).
Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity.
Verses 9-12. - "Here the psalmist becomes didactic" (Professor Cheyne). He encourages the faithful, and warns the wicked, by the declaration that men of every sort "are but vanity" - have no strength, no permanence - while power belongs only to God. Those who "oppress" and "rob" are, consequently, not to be feared - there is no strength in riches - God alone determines the issues of things. Unto him belongs mercy, or loving kindness - a quality which leads him not only to forgive men their transgressions, but to "reward" them, when, by his assisting grace, they have done good works. Verse 9. - Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie; rather, only vanity - or, nought but vanity - are men of low degree; common men, as we call them - mere sons of Adam. This is too evident for dispute; but, in the view of the psalmist, this is not the worst. "Men of high degree" (beney ish) are no better - they are "a lie" - an unreality - a fading, false illusion. To be laid in the balance; rather, in the balance, they go up (Hupfeld, Ewald Hitzig, Revised Version). They are altogether lighter than vanity; or, altogether made out of vanity (Kay); i.e. there is no substance, no solidity, in them.
Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.
Verse 10. - Trust not in oppression (comp. ver. 3). The class that supported Absalom was the class of oppressors in Israel, whom David kept under and restrained as far as possible. The writer warns them against trusting in their power to oppress, since such strength as they have is not their own, but lent them by God. And become not vain in robbery; or, rely not vainly on robbery (Kay). Do not suppose that God will allow you to continue oppressing and robbing. Such a belief is a vain illusion. If riches increase, set not your heart upon them. Even when wealth accumulates naturally, and not as the result of ill-doing, it is not a thing to be trusted or set store by.
God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God.
Verse 11. - God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this (comp. Job 33:14). When a thing is spoken twice, then assurance is made doubly sure. That power belongeth unto God. God, i.e., is the only ultimate Source of all power.
Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work.
Verse 12. - Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy; or, loving kindness. "Of Divine power all nature speaks; the knowledge of God's mercy rests mainly on revelation" (Kay). For thou renderest to every man according to his work. When God rewards well doing, it is Still of his mercy, since no man can claim that he deserves reward.