For you have delivered my soul from death: will not you deliver my feet from falling…
I. THE DELIVERANCE REALIZED BY FAITH BEFORE IT IS ACCOMPLISHED IN FACT (see translation in R.V.). He is still in the very thick of the trouble and the fight, and yet he says, "It is as good as over. Thou hast delivered." How does he come to that confidence? Simply because his future is God; and whoever has God for his future can turn else uncertain hopes into certain confidences, and make sure of this: that however Achish and his giant Philistines of Gath, wielding Goliath's arms, spears like a weaver's beam, and brazen armour, may compass him about, in the name of the Lord he will destroy them. They are all as good as dead, though they are alive and hostile at this moment. We to-day have the same reasons for the same confidence; and if we will go the right way about it, we, too, may bring June's sun into November's fogs, and bask in the warmth of certain deliverance even when the chill mists of trouble enfold us. But then note, too, here, the substance of this future intervention which, to the psalmist's quiet faith, is present. "My soul from death." and after that be says, "My feet from falling," which looks very like an anti-climax and bathos. But yet, just because to deliver the feet from falling is so much smaller a thing than delivering a life from death, it comes here to be a climax and something greater. The storm passes over the man. What then? After the storm has passed, he is not only alive, but he is standing upright. It has not killed him. No, it has not even shaken him. His feet are as firm as ever they were, and just because that is a smaller thing, it is a greater thing for the deliverance to have accomplished than the other. How did David get to this confidence? Why, he prayed himself into it. If you will read the psalm, you will see very clearly the process by which a man comes to that serene, triumphant trust that the battle is won even whilst it is raging around him. The true answer to David's prayer was the immediate access of confidence unshaken, though the outward answer was a long time in coming, and years lay between him and the cessation of his persecutions and troubles. So we may have brooks by the way, in quiet confidence of deliverance ere yet the deliverance comes.
II. THE IMPULSE TO SERVICE WHICH DELIVERANCE BRINGS. "That I may walk before God in the light of the living;" that is God's purpose in all His deliverances, that we may thereby be impelled to trustful and grateful service. And David makes that purpose into a vow, for the words might almost as well be translated, "I will walk before Him." Let us see to it that God's purpose is our resolve, and that we do not lose the good of any of the troubles or discipline through which He passes us; for the worst of all sorrows is a wasted sorrow. "Thou hast delivered my feet that I may walk." What are feet for? Walking! Further, notice the precise force of that phrase, "that I may walk before God." It is not altogether the same as the cognate one which is used about Enoch, that "he walked with God." The one expresses communion as with a friend; the other, the ordering of one's life before His eye, and in the consciousness of His presence as Judge and as Taskmaster. Think of what a regiment of soldiers on parade does as each file passes in front of the saluting point where the commanding officer is standing. How each man dresses up, and they pull themselves together, keeping step, sloping their rifles slightly. We are not on parade, but about business a great deal more serious than that. We are doing our fighting with the Captain looking at us, and that should be a stimulus, a joy, and not a terror. Realize God's eye watching you, and sin, and meanness, and negligence, and selfishness, and sensuality, and lust, and passion, and all the other devils that are in us will vanish like ghosts at cockcrow.
III. THE REGION IN WHICH THAT OBSERVANCE OF THE DIVINE EYE IS TO BE CARRIED ON. "In the light of the living." That seems to correspond to the first clause of his hope; just as the previous word that I have been commenting upon, "walking before Him," corresponds to the second, where he speaks about his feet. "Thou hast delivered my soul from death... I will walk before Thee in the light of the living" — where Thou dost still permit my delivered soul to be. And the phrase seems to mean the sunshine of human life contrasted with the darkness of Sheol. Our brightest light is the radiance from the face of God whom we try to love and serve, and the psalmist's confidence is that a life of observance of His commandments in which gratitude for deliverance is the impelling motive to continual realization of His presence, and an accordant life, will be a bright and sunny career. You will live in the sunshine if you live before His face, and however wintry the world may be, it will be like clear, frosty day. There is no frost in the sky, it does not go above the atmosphere, and high above, in serene and wondrous blue, is the blaze of the sunshine. And such a life will be a guided life. There will still remain many occasions for doubt in the region of belief, and for perplexity as to duty. There will often be need for patient and earnest thought as to both, and there will be no lack of calls for strenuous effort of our best faculties in order to apprehend what our Guide means us to do, and where He would have us go, but through it all there will be the guiding hand. As the Master, with perhaps a glance backward to these words, said, "He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." If He is in the light let us walk in the light, and to us it will be purity, and knowledge and joy.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.).
Parallel VersesKJV: For thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?
WEB: For you have delivered my soul from death, and prevented my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living. For the Chief Musician. To the tune of "Do Not Destroy." A poem by David, when he fled from Saul, in the cave.