<or Psalm for the sons of Korah, to the chief Musician upon Mahalath Leannoth, Maschil of Heman the Ezrahite.>> O LORD God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee:
Verse 1. - O Lord God of my salvation. This is the one "word of trust," which some get rid of by an emendation. But the Septuagint supports the existing Hebrew text; and it is in harmony with the rest of Scripture. The saints of God never despair. I have cried day and night before thee; literally, by day have I cried - by night before thee; a trembling, gasping utterance (Kay).
Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry;
Verse 2. - Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry (comp. Psalm 86:1, 6).
For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave.
Verse 3. - For my soul is full of troubles (see Job 10:15). And my life draweth nigh unto the grave; literally, unto Sheol - the place of departed spirits (comp. Job 10:21, 22).
I am counted with them that go down into the pit: I am as a man that hath no strength:
Verse 4. - I am counted with them that go down into the pit; i.e. "to the grave." I am reckoned as one just about to die. I am as a man that hath no strength. All my strength is departed from me; I am utterly feeble and weak - a mere shadow of my former self. Physical weakness, something like paralysis, seems to be meant.
Free among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou rememberest no more: and they are cut off from thy hand.
Verse 5. - Free among the dead; or, "east out among the dead." Placed with corpses, as one that needs burial. Like the slain that lie in the grave. Like those who are thrown into a pit dug on a battlefield, among whom there are often some who have not breathed their last (see the Prayerbook Version). Whom thou rememberest no more. We have already beard the complaint that in death there is no remembrance of God on the part of man (Psalm 6:5); now we have the converse statement, that neither is there then any remembrance of man on the part of God. The psalmist speaks, not absolute truth, but the belief of his day - a belief which vanished when life and immortality were brought to light by the gospel. And they are out off from thy hand; i.e. severed from thee, shut up in a place where thou dwell eat not (see Job 10:21, 22).
Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps.
Verse 6. - Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit. The affliction whereof the psalmist complains has come direct from the hand of Cod. It is some severe stroke of illness which has brought him to his last gasp. The "lowest pit" is here metaphorical - the deepest depth of calamity. In darkness; literally, in darknesses, where no ray of thy favour shines upon me. In the deeps (comp. Psalm 69:2, "deep waters, where the floods overflow him").
Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves. Selah.
Verse 7. - Thy wrath lieth hard upon me. Here the cause of all the psalmist's sufferings is touched; God was angry with him (comp. ver. 16). And thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves (comp. Psalm 42:7, "All thy waves and thy billows have gone over me").
Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me; thou hast made me an abomination unto them: I am shut up, and I cannot come forth.
Verse 8. - Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me. Compare the similar complaint of Job (Job 19:13, 14); and see also Psalm 31:11; and infra, ver. 18. Thou hast made me an abomination unto them. So Job (Job 9:31; Job 19:19; Job 30:10). It may be suspected that the psalmist's affliction was of a kind which made him "unclean." I am shut up. Not in prison, as Jeremiah (Jeremiah 32:2; Jeremiah 33:1; Jeremiah 36:5), but probably as unclean, or as suspected of Being unclean (see Leviticus 13:4-33). And I cannot come forth. I am not allowed to quit my chamber.
Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: LORD, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee.
Verse 9. - Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction; or, "mine eye hath grown feeble" (comp. Job 17:7). Lord, I have called daily upon thee; or, "all day." I have stretched out my hands unto thee. The attitude of earnest prayer (comp. Job 11:13; Psalm 68:31, etc.).
Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? Selah.
Verse 10. - Wilt thou show wonders to the dead? Am I to receive no mercy till I am dead? and then wilt thou work a miracle for my restoration and deliverance? Shall the dead arise and praise thee? rather, the shades (rephaim); comp. Job 26:5. The word rephaim designates the wan, shadowy ghosts that have gone down to Hades (Sheol), and are resting there. Shall these suddenly rise up and engage in the worship and praise of God? The psalmist does not, any more than Job (Job 14:14), expect such a resurrection.
Shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave? or thy faithfulness in destruction?
Verse 11. - Shall thy loving kindness be declared in the grave? Wilt thou wait till I am in my grave before thou showest any mercy upon me? or, Will not that be too late? Can thy faithfulness to thy promises be shown in destruction? literally, in Abaddon; i.e. "perdition" - a name of Sheol (cf. Job 26:6; Job 28:22).
Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?
Verse 12. - Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? (compare above, ver. 10). And thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? "The land of forgetfulness," or "of oblivion," is another name for Hades, or Sheol - not that there are supposed to be no memories of the past in it (Isaiah 14:16, 17), but that all is faint and shadowy there, consciousness but a half-consciousness, remembrance but a half-remembrance.
But unto thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.
Verse 13. - But unto thee have I cried, O Lord; literally, but as for me, to thee have I cried. The psalmist returns from the somewhat vague speculations of vers. 10-12 to fact and to himself. He is not yet a mere shade, an inhabitant of Sheol; he is in the flesh, upon the earth; he can still cry, and does still cry, to Jehovah. There is thus still a faint gleam of hope for him. And in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee. The psalmist will draw out God's mercy, as it were, before its time, by importuning him with early and continual prayer (comp. vers. 1, 9).
LORD, why castest thou off my soul? why hidest thou thy face from me?
Verse 14. - Lord, why cutest thou off my soul? The psalmist speaks here, like Job, as one aggrieved. What has he done to be "cast off"? He is evidently not aware of having sinned any grievous sin, and does not understand why he is visited with such grievous sufferings. Why hidest thou thy face from me? Perhaps it is his insensibility, his unconsciousness of real sins and shortcomings, that has drawn down upon the psalmist his chastisement.
I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up: while I suffer thy terrors I am distracted.
Verse 15. - I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up. This is a new point. The psalmist's afflictions have not come upon him recently. He does not merely mean, as some have supposed, that, like other men, as soon as he was born he began to die, but speaks of something, if not absolutely peculiar to himself, yet at any rate rare and abnormal - a long continuance in a dying state, such as could only have been brought about by some terribly severe malady. While I suffer thy terrors I am distracted; literally, I have endured thy terrors; I am exhausted. (On the endurance of God's "terrors," see Job 6:4; Job 9:34; Job 13:21.) The natural result would be a state, not of distraction, but of exhaustion. (So Kay, and substantially Professor Cheyne.)
Thy fierce wrath goeth over me; thy terrors have cut me off.
Verse 16. - Thy fierce wrath goeth over me. "Overwhelms me;" i.e. "like a fiery flood" (see above, ver. 7). Thy terrors have cut me off. A different word is used for "terrors" from that which occurs in ver. 15, and one elsewhere occurring only in Job 6:4. The verb also is one characteristic of Job (Job 6:17; 23:17), and means "extinguish," or "exterminate."
They came round about me daily like water; they compassed me about together.
Verse 17. - They came round about me daily like water. God's terrors encompass the psalmist "daily," or "all day long," like water; i.e. like an overwhelming flood (compare the first clause of ver. 16). They compassed me about together; or, "they compass me about in a mass."
Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness.
Verse 18. - Lover and friend hast thou put far from me (comp. ver. 8 and Job 19:13). And mine acquaintance into darkness; literally, and my intimates [are] darkness; i.e. "when I look for a friend or an acquaintance, my eye meets nothing but darkness," or "dark space."