Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
This acrostic psalm offers nothing definite for ascertaining its date, but is usually referred to the exile times, when the faithful among the captive Israelites were “waiting” (Psalm 25:3; Psalm 25:5; Psalm 25:21) for the redemption of their race. It is full of plaintive appeal to God for help, and reflects that disposition to trust entirely to the Divine pity, which is characteristic of the better minds of Israel under affliction. Indeed we may hear here the voice of the community acknowledging the sins of its younger days (Psalm 25:7) before trouble had come to teach the Divine lesson of penitence and hope of forgiveness.
A Psalm of David. Unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul.
Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.(3) Wait on thee.—More literally, as in LXX., wait for thee, with idea of strong endurance. The root means to make strong by twisting. (Comp. Psalm 25:5; Psalm 25:21, where the same word occurs, though in a different conjugation.) The Vulgate has qui sustinent te, “who maintain thee,” i.e., as their God. The Authorised Version is in error in following the imperative of the LXX. in this verse. It should run, none that wait for thee shall be ashamed.
Transgress without cause.—Better, practise treachery in vain. The Hebrew word is translated dealt treacherously, Judges 9:23.
Without cause.—Literally, empty.
Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.(5) Lead me in thy truth.—Better, make me walk in—i.e., make me to have an actual experience of the Divine faithfulness in my passage through life.
Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old.(6) Ever of old.—Better, from ancient times
Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.(8)“With recollections clear, august, sublime,
Of God’s great Truth and Right immutable
She queened it o’er her weakness.”—A. H. CLOUGH.
All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.(10) Mercy and truth.—Or, grace and truth; recalling John 1:4-17, and showing how the conception of God and His ways was gradually passing over from the domain of the Law to that of the Gospel.
What man is he that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose.(12) What man is he . . .?—For the emphatic question compare Psalm 34:12.
The way that he shall choose.—Rather, the way that he should choose—i.e., the way of right choice. The LXX. and Vulg., however, refer it to God—“the way in which He took delight.”
His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth.(13) Shall dwell.—Literally, shall lodge the night (comp. margin); but here, as in Psalm 49:12, with added sense of permanency.
The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant.(14) Secret.—Rather, familiar intercourse (so Symmachus). The Hebrew word primarily means couch, and then the confidential talk of those sitting on it. In Jeremiah 6:11; Jeremiah 15:17, the word is rendered “assembly.” The English word board offers a direct analogy. The word divan seems to have had a history exactly the reverse. (Comp. Psalm 55:14, “sweet counsel.”)
And he will shew them his covenant.—Literally, and his covenant to make them know. This is closely parallel with the preceding clause. The communion enjoyed by the pious is the highest covenant privilege.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses.(17) The troubles.—The consensus of commentators is for a different division of the Hebrew words.
. . . “Relieve my sore heart,
And release me from my distress.”
Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.(22) This verse, beginning with Pe, was apparently a later addition. Not only is it an isolated line, interfering with the alphabetical arrangement, but it also differs from the rest of the psalm by employing Elohim in the place of Jehovah. (Comp. Psalm 34:22.)