Expositor's Bible Commentary
To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, to bring to remembrance. Make haste, O God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, O LORD.Psalm 70:1-5THIS psalm is all but identical with the last verses of Psalm 40:13-17. Some unimportant alterations have been made, principally in the Divine names; but the principle on which they have been made is not obvious. It is scarcely correct to say, with Delitzsch, that the psalm "has been transformed, so as to become Elohistic" for though it twice replaces the name of Jehovah with that of God (Psalm 70:1, Psalm 70:4), it makes the converse change in Psalm 70:5, last clause, by reading Jehovah instead of "God," as in Psalm 40:1-17.
Other changes are of little moment. The principal are in Psalm 70:3 and Psalm 70:5. In the former the vehement wish that the psalmist’s mockers may be paralysed with shame is softened down into a desire that they may be turned back. The two verbs are similar in sound, and the substitution may have been accidental, a slip of memory or a defect in hearing, or it may have been an artistic variation of the original. In Psalm 70:5 a prayer that God will hasten to the psalmist’s help takes the place of an expression of confidence that "Jehovah purposes [good]" to him, and again there is similarity of sound in the two words. This change is like the subtle alteration which a painter might make on his picture by taking out one spot of high light. The gleam of confidence is changed to a call of need, and the tone of the whole psalm is thereby made more plaintive.
Hupfeld holds that this psalm is the original, and Psalm 40:1-17 a composite; but most commentators agree in regarding this as a fragment of that psalm. The cut has not been very cleanly made; for the necessary verb "be pleased" has been left behind, and the symmetry of Psalm 70:1 is destroyed for want of it. The awkward incompleteness of this beginning witnesses that the psalm is a fragment.