Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
This plaintive cry for help falls into two divisions, each of which may be subdivided into three stanzas.
i. The Psalmist entreats God to rescue him from the deadly foes who beset him (Psalm 69:1-6). He urges as the ground of his prayer that it is for God’s sake that he is being persecuted (Psalm 69:7-12); and then with more strenuous insistence repeats his cry for help (Psalm 69:13-18).
ii. Once more he lays before God all the inhumanity of his persecutors (Psalm 69:19-21); and, goaded by the recollection of their behaviour, imprecates upon them the judgement they deserve (Psalm 69:22-28). Regaining his calmness, he looks forward with confidence to his deliverance and consequent thanksgiving; and concludes with a call to universal praise for the redemption and restoration of Zion which God will assuredly accomplish (Psalm 69:29-36).
The name of David stands in the title, but though the Psalm may have been taken from a collection bearing his name, it is impossible to suppose that it was written by him. To what period of his life could Psalm 69:8 ff. refer, or how can Psalm 69:33 ff. be connected with his reign? These latter verses, which cannot be detached from the Psalm as a later liturgical addition, point decidedly to the Exile, or to the closing years of the kingdom, when Jehoiachin and the flower of the population of Judah had already been carried into captivity (b.c. 597), and the final downfall of the state was imminent. The latter alternative is the most probable; and the circumstances, ideas, and language of the Psalmist so remarkably resemble those of Jeremiah, that it has been conjectured with much plausibility that he was the author of the Psalm. It is not indeed to be supposed that the metaphorical expressions of Psalm 69:1-2; Psalm 69:14-15 are a literal description of his sufferings in the dungeon of Malchiah, (ch. Psalm 38:6 ff.), or that the Psalm was composed as he lay there, though the language may have been partly suggested by his treatment upon that occasion; and it is of course impossible positively to affirm that it was written by him; but it is certainly to the Book of Jeremiah that we must turn for the most vivid illustration of the circumstances and the feelings of the Psalmist. If Jeremiah was not the author, it must have been some prophet of a kindred temper of mind under very similar circumstances.
(1) The general situation of the Psalmist corresponds remarkably to that of Jeremiah as he describes it himself in chaps. Jeremiah 11:18 ff., Jeremiah 12:1 ff., Jeremiah 15:10 ff., Jeremiah 17:12 ff., Jeremiah 18:18 ff., Jeremiah 20:7 ff., and elsewhere. His words, “Know that for thy sake I bear reproach” (Jeremiah 15:15), might be taken as the motto of the Psalm. Like Jeremiah, the Psalmist is the victim of contempt which crushes his spirits and hostility which threatens his life. His persecutors are not heathen foreigners, but godless fellow-countrymen; and even his own relations have deserted him.
(2) The Psalmist’s imprecations of judgement on his enemies find a close parallel in the passages already referred to: and the prediction of the restoration of Judah with which the Psalm closes is a brief summary of Jeremiah’s prophecies collected in chaps. 30–33. The Psalmist’s intense depression of spirit and sudden changes of feeling are very characteristic of Jeremiah. Cp. e.g., Jeremiah 20:13.
(3) The language of the Psalm is full of coincidences with the language of Jeremiah, which will be pointed out in the notes.
In such a case proof is impossible, but it will give point and reality to the Psalm, if we hear in it the voice of the martyr-prophet to whom was assigned the bitter task of delivering God’s message to a hardened and impenitent people, by whom it was received with indifference or open contempt: who, while divinely strengthened to deliver that message with unflinching courage, and inspired to look forward with unshaken faith to the rise of a nobler order out of the ruins of the old, yet in moments of human weakness almost lost his own personal trust in God, and became the prey of impatience and despair.
 The writer would refer to his Doctrine of the Prophets, Lect. XI., for a sketch of the life and work of Jeremiah.
No Psalm, with the exception of Psalms 22, is so frequently quoted in the N.T. The experience of the Psalmist (Psalm 69:4) was ‘fulfilled’ in the causeless hatred of the Jews for the Son of God (John 15:25). The consuming zeal of Jesus for the honour of His Father’s desecrated house brought the words of Psalm 69:9 to the minds of His disciples (John 2:17): and the rest of the same verse is applied by St Paul to Christ, Who pleased not Himself, but voluntarily bore the reproaches intended for God (Romans 15:3). The words of Psalm 69:25 are combined with those of Psalm 109:8 in Acts 1:20, to describe the doom of the traitor; and Psalm 69:22-23 are applied in Romans 11:9 ff. to the rejection of apostate Israel. The physical sufferings of the Psalmist (Psalm 69:21) foreshadowed those of Christ (St John 19:28 f.); and though he does not expressly quote it, the passage seems to have been in the mind of St Matthew (Matthew 27:34; Matthew 27:48) in his description of the Passion. Psalm 69:12; Psalm 69:20 point forward to the mockery (Matthew 27:27 ff.); and as we read Psalm 69:26. in the light of Isaiah 53 and Zechariah 13:7, its typical significance is obvious.
Yet the Psalm is not prediction but description, and much of it is plainly not applicable to Christ. The confession of sin in Psalm 69:5, and the imprecations of vengeance (Psalm 69:22 ff.), are wholly unsuited to the meek and sinless Jesus. It is prophetic only inasmuch as the experience of each suffering servant of God who endured reproach and persecution for God’s sake under the old covenant was in some measure a type and foreshadowing of the experience of the true and perfect Servant of the Lord. Even the details of their lives were shaped so as to correspond to details in the life of Christ: and these details serve to attract attention and to point to the inner correspondence by which He gathered up and ‘fulfilled’ the experience of the saints and servants of God who had gone before. Jeremiah was a type of Christ: but he and others like him were but partial and imperfect types: there was much in their lives and characters which shewed that they were men compassed with infirmity: but in the antitype the imperfections disappear, and the true Son of Man, the perfect Servant of the Lord, stands revealed. On the ‘Passion Psalms’ in general see Introd. pp. lxxix f.
For a discussion of the imprecations of Psalm 69:21 ff., which startle and shock the Christian reader, see Introd. pp. lxxxviii ff. Here it may suffice to remark that if the reader would be fair to Jeremiah (or the unknown author) he must endeavour to realise the intense provocation to which Jeremiah was subjected. He must remember that they are to be judged by the standard of the Law, and not by the spirit of the Gospel. He must bear in mind that they are not merely or mainly the utterance of personal vindictiveness, but the expression of a burning desire for the manifestation of the righteous judgement of God upon those who resisted His will and persecuted His servants.
This Psalm should be compared with Psalms 22, 40; it has also points of connexion with Psalms 31, 38, 44; and in its imprecations it stands midway between Psalms 35, 109.
Its typical character explains its selection as a Proper Psalm for Good Friday.
On the title For the Chief Musician; set to Shoshannim, i.e. lilies, see note on the title of Psalms 45.
To the chief Musician upon Shoshannim, A Psalm of David. Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul.1. the waters &c.] He is like a drowning man. The flood of calamity has risen till it threatens his life. For the metaphor cp. Psalm 18:16; Psalm 32:6; Psalm 66:12; Psalm 124:4; Lamentations 3:54; and for unto my soul see Jeremiah 4:10; Jeremiah 4:18; Jonah 2:5.
1–6. The Psalmist appeals to God for help, pleading the extremity of his plight.
I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.2. He is like a man floundering in a morass or quicksand where there is no footing and his struggles only plunge him deeper, or fording a river and in imminent danger of being swept away by the current. Quagmires, ‘treacherous to the last degree,’ are common in Palestine. See Thomson’s Land and the Book, p. 360; and Dr Tristram’s description of the vast and impenetrable swamp of Huleh, where a false step off the roots of the papyrus “will take the intruder over head in suffocating peat mud.” Land of Israel, p. 579.
the floods overflow me] Or, the current—‘Shibbôleth,’ Jdg 12:6—sweeps me away.
I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God.3. He is worn out and exhausted in mind and body by the prolonged strain of prayer unanswered. Cp. Psalm 22:1-2; Psalm 22:15; Psalm 6:7; Jeremiah 45:3; Psalm 119:82; Psalm 119:123; Lamentations 2:11; Lamentations 4:17. For I am weary of &c., render with R.V. I am weary with my crying.
They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored that which I took not away.4. The number and the virulence of his foes, and the groundlessness of their hostility. For the language comp. Psalm 40:12; Psalm 35:19; Psalm 38:19. The quotation in John 15:25 agrees with the LXX.
moe] This archaism for ‘more,’ which has disappeared from modern Bibles, is restored by Scrivener in accordance with the original edition of 1611.
they that would destroy me] R.V., they that would cut me off. Ewald and others follow the Syr. in reading this line, ‘More numerous than my bones are they that are mine enemies falsely.’ The parallelism of the first two lines of the verse is improved by the change, which involves only a slight alteration of the consonants; but the comparison is not a natural one, and the reading of the text is supported by the use of the same verb in Lamentations 3:53, in a closely similar context (note Lamentations 3:52; Lam 3:54).
wrongfully] Lit. falsely. Their hostility is based upon misconception and misrepresentation.
then I restored] Or, as R.V. marg., I had to restore. ‘Then’ may refer to some signal instance prominent in the Psalmist’s recollection.
that which I took not away] That which I had not plundered. Perhaps a proverbial expression for the extreme of injured innocence. He was accused of being an extortioner and oppressor of the poor who must be made to disgorge his ill-gotten gains (Ezekiel 33:15). Cp. Eliphaz’ charges against Job (Job 22:6 ff.), and Zophar’s picture of the wicked man compelled to make restitution (Job 20:18 ff.).
O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee.5, 6. Chastisement is not undeserved; but he commits himself to the mercy of the Omniscient, and pleads for a hearing on the ground that the cause of all God’s servants is bound up with his cause. If he is abandoned they must be discouraged and exposed to the contempt of the world.
Thou is emphatic. Similar appeals to God’s omniscience are characteristic of Jeremiah (ch. Jeremiah 12:3; Jeremiah 15:15; Jeremiah 17:16; Psalm 18:23). Sin is designated as ‘foolishness’ in Psalm 38:5, where, as here, the Psalmist acknowledges that his sufferings are the chastisement of his sin. This is the only other passage in which the word occurs, except in the Book of Proverbs, where it is common.
sins] Lit. guiltinesses; cp. Psalm 68:21.
Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord GOD of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel.6. Let not those that wait on thee be ashamed through me,
O Lord, Jehovah of hosts:
Let not those that seek thee be brought to dishonour through me, O God of Israel.
Cp. Psalm 25:3; Psalm 38:15-16. The divine titles are significant. They appeal to God’s sovereignty and to His relation to His people. Surely, since He has the power to prevent it, He cannot leave the true Israel to be the scorn of its foes, as will happen through me, or, in my case, if I am left to perish unregarded.
Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face.7. So Jeremiah pleads, “Know that for thy sake I bear reproach” (Jeremiah 15:15). shame &c.] cp. Psalm 44:15.
7–12. Such discouragement must be the inevitable consequence if he is abandoned, for it is for God’s sake that he is persecuted and defamed. Comp. the plea of the nation in Psalm 44:14 ff.
I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children.8. Even his nearest relations treat him as a stranger and a foreigner. Cp. Psalm 38:11; Job 19:13 ff.; Jeremiah 12:6.
my mother’s children] The sons of my own mother expresses a closer degree of relationship than my brethren, the children of the same mother being always regarded as bound to one another by a closer tie than those of the same father by different mothers. Cp. Psalm 50:20.
For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.9. His jealousy for the honour of God’s house was like a consuming fire within him. Cp. Psalm 119:139; Psalm 39:3; Jeremiah 20:9. It is difficult to determine whether ‘thine house’ means the Temple only, or as in Numbers 12:7, Hosea 8:1, bears the wider meaning of the land or the people of Israel. (1) In the former case the reference may be to the burning indignation which was stirred by the sight of abominations such as those which Ezekiel describes as polluting the Temple (ch. 8); and it is noteworthy that he particularly mentions “the image of jealousy which provoketh to jealousy,” i.e. some image or symbol which was a direct challenge of the “jealous God” who could brook no rival, and which must have stirred the grief and indignation of His faithful servants. (2) In the latter case it is the general condition of the nation, the contrast between its calling to be a holy nation and the universal corruption prevalent, which stirs his deepest emotion. This alternative gains some support from Jeremiah’s usage (Jeremiah 11:15; Jeremiah 12:7; Jeremiah 23:11).
The zeal of Christ for His Father’s desecrated house recalled these words to the minds of His disciples (John 2:17 : the reading of the true text follows the LXX (B), shall eat me up).
the reproaches &c.] Better as R.V., the reproaches of them that reproach thee are fallen upon me. On the one hand their blasphemies against God wound and crush the spirit of His servant; and on the other hand they shew their contempt for God by their mockery of His servant. Such was Jeremiah’s experience: his contemporaries mocked God’s message, and mocked him for delivering it (ch. Psalm 6:10; Psalm 20:8): such too was the experience of Christ Himself, to whom St Paul applies these words in Romans 15:3.
When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach.10, 11. When I wept, (and chastened) my soul with fasting,
It was turned to reproaches for me:
When I made sackcloth my clothing,
I became a byword unto them.
In shame and penitence for the dishonour done by his countrymen to God, he fasted and mourned; but they only mocked and derided him for doing what they ought to have done themselves (Jeremiah 4:8; Jeremiah 6:26).
The construction of the first line is anomalous. Probably the word for ‘wept’ is a corruption of some word for ‘humbled’ (Psalm 35:13) or ‘chastened.’ For byword cp. Psalm 44:14.
I made sackcloth also my garment; and I became a proverb to them.
They that sit in the gate speak against me; and I was the song of the drunkards.12. They that sit in the gate talk of me,
And the songs of them that drink strong drink (make sport of me).
In the gate where men gather to hear the last gossip as well as to transact business (Psalm 9:14; Jeremiah 17:19 f.) he is the talk of the city: his austerities and oddities furnish a subject for the latest comic song of the revellers’ parties. Cp. Lamentations 3:14; Job 30:9; Isaiah 5:11-12; Isaiah 5:22; Amos 6:4 ff.
But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O LORD, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation.13. It is best to divide the clauses somewhat differently:
But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O Jehovah,
At the time thou pleasest, O God, in the abundance of thy lovingkindness,
Answer me in the truth of thy salvation.
In an acceptable time, lit. a time of good pleasure (Psalm 40:13; Psalm 51:18) is most naturally connected with answer me, as in Isaiah 49:8, “In an acceptable time have I answered thee.” He cannot tell that it is yet God’s will to deliver him, but he can be sure that the time will come, for God has revealed Himself to be a God “abundant in lovingkindness and truth” (Exodus 34:6), and if He is true to His character, He must save His servant. Cp. Psalm 51:1.
13–18. From the hardheartedness of men he turns to the mercy of God.
Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink: let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters.14, 15. In his prayer he repeats the words which he had previously used to describe his plight (Psalm 69:2; Psalm 69:4). It is difficult to see why the R.V. has substituted overwhelm for overflow here and not in Psalm 69:2, the Heb. word being the same in both cases.
let not the pit &c.] Either the grave (Psalm 55:23), or a dungeon (Lamentations 3:53; Lamentations 3:55), may be meant. In the latter case Jeremiah’s experience (ch. Psalm 38:6) may have suggested the metaphor; but the words are not to be understood literally of release from Malchiah’s dungeon.
Let not the waterflood overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me.
Hear me, O LORD; for thy lovingkindness is good: turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies.16. Hear me] Answer me.
for thy lovingkindness is good] So Psalm 109:21.
turn unto me &c.] According to the abundance of thy compassions turn thee unto me. Cp. Psalm 51:1 note; Lamentations 3:32. ‘Turning’ or ‘looking’ unto him (Psalm 25:16; Psalm 119:132) is the opposite of that ‘hiding of God’s face’ which he deprecates in the next verse.
And hide not thy face from thy servant; for I am in trouble: hear me speedily.17. The Psalmist pleads his calling: surely God cannot continue to withhold His favour and help from one who is bound to His service and devoted to His cause. The plea would have special force if the Psalmist was a prophet like Jeremiah (Amos 3:7). Cp. Psalm 27:9; Psalm 31:16; Psalm 44:24; &c.
for I am in trouble &c.] Because I am in a strait, answer me speedily.
Draw nigh unto my soul, and redeem it: deliver me because of mine enemies.18. Draw nigh] Cp. the acknowledgement of answered prayer in Lamentations 3:57-58, ‘Thou drewest nigh in the day when I called upon thee … thou redeemedst my life.”
deliver me] Or, as R.V., ransom me. Cp. Jeremiah 15:21.
because of mine enemies] Who will triumph if I am abandoned to their malice, and by whose triumph the honour of the God whom I serve will suffer. Cp. Psalm 13:4.
Thou hast known my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonour: mine adversaries are all before thee.19. Thou hast known] Rather, THOU knowest. Thou, as in Psalm 69:5, is emphatic. See note there for references to Jeremiah’s use of this phrase.
all before thee] They are all in Thy sight. He pleads with God as he might with men, who are more easily moved to pity by the sight of suffering than by merely hearing of it.
19–21. Once more he lays before God the severity of his sufferings, and the inhumanity of his enemies.
Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.20. hath broken my heart] Cp. Jeremiah 23:9.
I am full of heaviness] Or, as R.V. marg., sore sick. A cognate word is frequently used in Jer., e.g. Jeremiah 15:18, A.V. incurable.
and I looked &c.] Or, and I waited for some to sympathise, but there was no one.
They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.21. This verse is connected with the preceding one. Not content with merely refusing sympathy, they aggravated and embittered his sufferings, as though one were to mock a hungry man by offering him bitter and poisonous food, or a thirsty man by giving him sour and undrinkable wine. The language is plainly metaphorical: cp. Jeremiah 8:14; Jeremiah 9:15; Jeremiah 23:15. The Heb. word rôsh, rendered gall (LXX χολή, Vulg. and Jer. fel), denotes some bitter and poisonous plant, which cannot however be identified with certainty. Tristram (Nat. Hist. of Bible, p. 447) thinks that the Poppy is the plant intended. “Papaver arenarium grows everywhere in Palestine; it springs up very quickly in cornfields, and its juice is most bitter and poisonous.”
Vinegar cannot here mean the thin sour wine which was used as a refreshing beverage (Numbers 6:3; Ruth 2:14), but such as had gone bad and become nauseous and unfit to drink.
Allusion seems to be made to this passage in St Matthew’s account of the Crucifixion (Matthew 27:34), though it is not actually quoted; and St John expressly says that the cry “I thirst” was uttered “that the scripture might be accomplished.”
 The ‘Gospel of Peter’ (ch. 5) represents the potion of “gall with vinegar” as poison administered to hasten death.
Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap.22. Let their table before them become a snare;
Yea, when they are at peace, let it become a trap.
The language is suggested by the metaphors of the preceding verse. They had aggravated the sufferings of a joyless life: let their own enjoyments turn to their ruin. The idea of the transformation of their table into a snare becomes more intelligible if it is remembered that the table meant was probably a piece of leather unrolled and spread upon the ground, such as is still used in the East. The curse is intensified by the prayer that this fate may overtake them while they are in unsuspecting security. Cp. 1 Thessalonians 5:3. The rendering of the A.V., which is substantially the same as that of the P.B.V., is untenable. It was introduced into the ‘Great Bible’ from Münster’s Latin Version et quae in pacem (esse debuerant sint) in offendiculum, and was doubtless derived by him from the Jewish scholar Kimchi.
The quotation of this verse in Romans 11:9 is made freely from the LXX, supplemented probably by a reminiscence of Psalm 35:8 (34). The following verse is quoted exactly as it stands in the LXX.
22–28. At the thought of the intolerable inhumanity of his enemies he can no longer restrain himself, and breaks out into fierce imprecation. Some commentators, feeling the difficulty of such imprecations proceeding from the Psalmist, have regarded these verses as the utterance of the Psalmist’s enemies, invoking destruction upon him and his companions. But such an interpretation is unnatural: the pronouns ‘their’ and ‘they’ in Psalm 69:22 ff. cannot have a different reference from ‘they’ in Psalm 69:21.
Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not; and make their loins continually to shake.23. Let the eyes which gloated over another’s misfortunes be blinded: let the limbs which are the seat of the strength they have abused be palsied.
Pour out thine indignation upon them, and let thy wrathful anger take hold of them.24. Cp. Psalm 79:6; Jeremiah 10:25. and let &c.] R.V., and let the fierceness of thine anger overtake them.
Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents.25. their habitation] Rather, as R.V. marg., their encampment; cp. Genesis 25:16; Numbers 31:10; Ezekiel 25:4 (R.V.). The language is a survival from the habits of nomad life, with which however the Israelites must always have been familiar. Cp. Jeremiah 4:20; Jeremiah 10:20. To the Oriental no prospect was more terrible than that of the complete extermination of his family. Cp. Job 18:19; Proverbs 14:11.
The quotation in Acts 1:20 is a free adaptation of the LXX.
For they persecute him whom thou hast smitten; and they talk to the grief of those whom thou hast wounded.26. For they persecute &c.] They had no commission to aggravate the sufferings of one who was already smitten with the rod of chastisement by God Himself. We think of Job and his friends (Job 19:21-22), and of the Suffering Servant of Jehovah (Isaiah 53:4). Cp. Isaiah 47:6.
they talk to the grief] R.V., they tell of the sorrow, or as marg., the pain. The LXX and Syr. represent a reading which suits the parallelism better: “they add to the sorrow.”
him whom thou hast smitten] The plural of the next line suggests the rendering those whom &c., which the Heb. admits: but the A.V. follows the Ancient Versions in giving the singular.
those whom thou hast wounded] Cp. Psalm 109:22, “my heart is wounded within me.” Note that the Psalmist is not alone in his suffering.
Add iniquity unto their iniquity: and let them not come into thy righteousness.27. Some commentators, retaining the A.V. rendering of Psalm 69:26, regard Psalm 69:27-28 as the words of the Psalmist’s enemies, directed against him and his fellow sufferers. This interpretation has been advocated, as removing from the mouth of the Psalmist at any rate the most terrible anathemas. But perplexing as it may be, it is far more natural to see in these verses the climax of his imprecations.
Add iniquity &c.] Instead of taking away their iniquities by forgiveness, let one iniquity accumulate upon another till they are crushed by the load. Cp. Psalm 38:4; Jeremiah 18:23.
let them not come into thy righteousness] Let them have no share in the manifestation of that righteousness or faithfulness to His covenant in virtue of which Jehovah pardons sin and delivers from danger. Cp. Psalm 5:8; Psalm 71:2; Psalm 71:15; Psalm 71:19; Psalm 71:24.
Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.28. the book of the living] Or, as R.V., the book of life. The figure is borrowed from the lists or registers of citizens (Jeremiah 22:30; Ezekiel 13:9). God has a book in which the names of those who are to be preserved alive are inscribed. The righteous have their names recorded in it (cp. Habakkuk 2:4). May the names of these malefactors be struck out, or never inserted there! May they be deprived of their privileges as Israelites! May they perish and be utterly forgotten! Cp. Exodus 32:32; Isaiah 4:3; Daniel 12:1. But—and this mitigates what would otherwise be the awful character of the imprecation—‘the book of life’ is not here to be understood in the full N.T. sense as ‘the book of eternal life’ (Luke 10:20; Php 4:3; Revelation 3:5; Revelation 13:8; Revelation 17:8; Revelation 20:12).
But I am poor and sorrowful: let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high.29. But as for me, who am afflicted and sore pained,
Thy salvation, O God, shall set me up on high.
The verb may be rendered as a prayer (A.V.), or as an expression of confidence (P.B.V.). God’s deliverance will set him as it were in a high fortress, out of the reach of his enemies. Cp. Psalm 59:1 note.
29–36. In contrast to the fate which his enemies deserve, the Psalmist looks forward to his own deliverance, and predicts the restoration of Jerusalem and the reestablishment there of the true people of God. Such a sudden change of tone is quite characteristic of Jeremiah, e.g. Jeremiah 20:13.
I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.
This also shall please the LORD better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs.31. And it shall please Jehovah better than an ox,
(Or) a bullock that hath horns and hoofs.
The Massoretic accentuation makes one clause of the verse, reading it better than an ox-bullock: but the division of the clauses adopted by R.V. is preferable. The epithets are not merely ornamental: the horns shew that the animal is of full age; the hoofs allude to the definition of ‘clean’ animals in Leviticus 11:3 ff. But spiritual sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving are more acceptable than the most perfect animal victim. Cp. Psalms 50, 51.
The humble shall see this, and be glad: and your heart shall live that seek God.32. When the meek see it, they shall be glad:
Ye that seek after God, let your heart revive.
Cp. Psalm 22:16, and with Psalm 69:33 cp. Psalm 22:24.
For the LORD heareth the poor, and despiseth not his prisoners.33. the poor] R.V. the needy, as Psalm 9:18, Jeremiah 20:13, and frequently.
his prisoners] Though He has cast them into the prison of captivity for their sins, He will not reject their prayers. Cp. Psalm 22:24; Psalm 102:17; Psalm 102:20; Psalm 107:10 ff. After the capture of the city in b.c. 597, all the best part of the nation was carried into captivity.
Let the heaven and earth praise him, the seas, and every thing that moveth therein.34. All creation is summoned to join in a chorus of praise to God for the redemption of Zion, for it is an event of universal significance. Cp. Isaiah 44:23.
For God will save Zion, and will build the cities of Judah: that they may dwell there, and have it in possession.35. So Jeremiah couples ‘Jerusalem and the cities of Judah,’ Psalm 33:10 ff., Psalm 34:7 : and the prediction of restoration corresponds to the prophecies collected in his ‘Book of Consolation,’ chaps, 30–33. The language does not presume that Jerusalem was already in ruins, any more than do those prophecies.
that they may dwell there] Better, and men shall abide there.
The seed also of his servants shall inherit it: and they that love his name shall dwell therein.36. Cp. Isaiah 65:9; Isaiah 65:23.
they that love his name] Cp. Psalm 5:11; Psalm 119:132. The citizens of Zion will all be true Israelites, faithfully observing the first and great commandment of the law (Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Deuteronomy 6:13).