Psalm 40:11
Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me.
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Psalm 40:11-12. Withhold not thy tender mercies, &c. — This prayer is uttered by David, either, 1st, In the person of Christ, to whom it may agree; or, rather, 2d, In his own person. For having been transported by the Spirit of God to the commemoration of the great mystery of the Messiah, of whom he was an illustrious type, he now seems to be led back by the same Spirit to the consideration of his own case. Mine iniquities — Either, 1st, The punishment of mine iniquities, as Genesis 4:13, and elsewhere; or, 2d, The iniquities themselves. This cannot be understood of Christ. For although our sins were said to be laid upon him, Isaiah 53:6, and upon that account he is said to be made sin for us, 2 Corinthians 5:21; yet the Scripture everywhere represents him as one that never knew or did any sin; and, therefore, it is not probable that the Holy Ghost would use such an expression concerning him, as is never used in Scripture, but either of a man’s own sins, or of the punishment deserved by them. Have taken hold upon me — Men’s sins are figuratively said to follow them, 1 Timothy 5:24, and to find them out, Numbers 32:23; and here to take hold on them as an officer takes hold on a man, whom he arrests. So that I am not able to look up — Unto God or men with any comfort or confidence; I am ashamed and confounded. They are more than the hairs of my head — Namely, mine iniquities here mentioned, properly so called; for God’s people are more apt to aggravate their sins than the punishments of them.

40:11-17 The best saints see themselves undone, unless continually preserved by the grace of God. But see the frightful view the psalmist had of sin. This made the discovery of a Redeemer so welcome. In all his reflections upon each step of his life, he discovered something amiss. The sight and sense of our sins in their own colours, must distract us, if we have not at the same time some sight of a Saviour. If Christ has triumphed over our spiritual enemies, then we, through him, shall be more than conquerors. This may encourage all that seek God and love his salvation, to rejoice in him, and to praise him. No griefs nor poverty can render those miserable who fear the Lord. Their God, and all that he has or does, is the ground of their joy. The prayer of faith can unlock his fulness, which is adapted to all their wants. The promises are sure, the moment of fulfilment hastens forward. He who once came in great humility, shall come again in glorious majesty.Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord - Do not restrain or hold back thy compassions. Let thy mercies - the expressions of thy love - flow out freely toward me in connection with what I have done. As applicable to the Redeemer, this is a prayer that God would bestow upon him in connection with his work, and as a reward of his work, appropriate proofs of his goodness. And especially is this to be understood here as a prayer for support and deliverance in the sorrows that came upon him in the accomplishment of his work. The prayer is intermediate between the expression of his purpose to do the will of God when all other means of salvation had failed Psalm 40:6-8, and the sorrows or sufferings that would come upon him in the accomplishment of his work Psalm 40:12-13. He saw himself at this point of his life, as represented in the psalm, as about to sink into the depth of woes. He had kept the law of God, and had by his obedience thus far done His will. He had made known the truth of God, and had declared His great message to the assembled multitude that had crowded his path, and thronged to hear him. He saw himself now about to enter the vale of sorrow; to plunge into that depth of the unutterable woes connected with the making of an atonement. He prayed, therefore, that, in these approaching sorrows, God would not withhold the expression of his tender mercy. The point of time, therefore, in the Redeemer's life which the verse before us occupies, is that awful and sorrowful hour when, his public work of teaching and of miracles finished, he was about to endure the agonies of Gethsemane and of the cross.

Let thy loving-kindness - Thy mercy. "And thy truth." Thy promises; thy plighted support and strength; thy fidelity. That is, he prayed that God would show himself true and faithful in bearing him through the great work of the atonement.

Continually - Through the whole of these sorrows. Do not for a moment leave or forsake me.

Preserve me - Keep me from sinking under these woes; from speaking any improper word; from shrinking back; from being overcome by the tempter; from failing in the great work now to be accomplished. As the Redeemer had a human as well as a divine nature; as he was man, with all human susceptibilities to suffering, it was not inappropriate that he should utter this prayer, and lift up his heart with the utmost earnestness to God, that he might not be forsaken in the consummation of the great work of his life, and that this work might not fail.

11. may be rendered as an assertion, that God will not withhold (Ps 16:1).11 Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me.

12 For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.

13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me: O Lord, make haste to help me.

14 Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil.

15 Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame that say unto me, Aha, aha.

16 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The Lord be magnified.

17 But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.

Psalm 40:11

"Withhold not thou try tender mercies from me, O Lord." Alas! these were to be for awhile withheld from our Lord while on the accursed tree, but meanwhile in his great agony he seeks for gentle dealing; and the coming of the angel to strengthen him was a clear answer to his prayer. He had been blessed aforetime in the desert, and now at the entrance of the valley of the shadow of death, like a true, trustful, and experienced man, he utters a holy, plaintive desire for the tenderness of heaven. He had not withheld his testimony to God's truth, now in return he begs his Father not to withhold his compassion. This verse might more correctly be read as a declaration of his confidence that help would not be refused; but whether we view this utterance as the cry of prayer, or the avowal of faith, in either case it is instructive to us who take our suffering Lord for an example, and it proves to us how thoroughly he was made like unto his brethren. "Let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me." He had preached both of these, and now he asks for an experience of them, that he might be kept in the evil day and rescued from his enemies and his afflictions. Nothing endears our Lord to us more than to hear him thus pleading with strong crying and tears to him who was able to save. O Lord Jesus, in our nights of wrestling we will remember thee.

Psalm 40:12

"For innumerable evils have compassed me about." On every side he was beset with evils; countless woes environed the great Substitute for our sins. Our sins were innumerable, and so were his griefs. There was no escape for us from our iniquities, and there was no escape for him from the woes which we deserved. From every quarter evils accumulated about the blessed One, although in his heart evil found no place. "Mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up." He had no sin, but sins were laid on him, and he took them as if they were his. "He was made sin for us." The transfer of sin to the Saviour was real, and produced in him as man the horror which forbade him to look into the face of God, bowing him down with crushing anguish and woe intolerable. O my soul, what would thy sins have done for thee eternally if the Friend of sinners had not condescended to take them all upon himself? Oh, blessed Scripture! "The Lord hath made to meet upon him the iniquity of us all." Oh, marvellous depth of love, which could lead the perfectly immaculate to stand in the sinner's place, and bear the horror of great trembling which sin must bring upon those conscious of it. "They are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me." The pains of the divine penalty were beyond compute, and the Saviour's soul was so burdened with them, that he was sore amazed, and very heavy even unto a sweat of blood. His strength was gone, his spirits sank, he was in an agony.

Came at length the dreadful night;

Vengeance with its iron rod

Stood, and with collected might


This prayer is uttered by David, either,

1. In the person of Christ; to whom it may agree. Or,

2. In his own person. Having been transported and carried forth by the Spirit of God to the contemplation and commemoration of the great mystery of the Messias, of whom he was an illustrious type, now he seems to be led back by the same Spirit to the consideration of himself and his own particular case.

Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord,.... this is a petition of Christ to his Father, when in the midst of his sorrows and sufferings, before related; and particularly when he hid his face from him, and withheld the discoveries of his tender and affectionate love;

let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me; as he had promised; of which promise some notice is given, Isaiah 49:8, in the fulfilment of which the lovingkindness, truth, and faithfulness of God, would appear. Some read these words as expressive of faith in these things, "thou wilt not withhold", &c. "thy lovingkindness and thy truth shall continually preserve me" (o).

(o) "non cohibebis", Gejerus, Michaelis; "custodient me", Vatablus, Gejerus, Michaelis.

Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me.
11. Thou, O Jehovah, wilt not restrain Thy tender mercies from me,

Thy lovingkindness and thy truth shall continually guard me.

The words are not a prayer but an expression of confidence in the certainty of God’s response (Matthew 10:32). Thou is emphatic. God on His part will not fail. The double correspondence with Psalm 40:9-10 should be noted. As he has not restrained his lips, so, he trusts, God will not restrain His tender mercies: as he has not ceased to acknowledge God’s lovingkindness and truth, so that lovingkindness and truth will not cease to protect him. Cp. Psalm 25:21; Psalm 61:7; Isaiah 63:15.

Verse 11. - Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord. The supplicatory portion of the psalm here commences. David beseeches God, whose loving-kindness is so great (ver. 10), not to withhold from him those "tender mercies" which he lavishes so freely. As he is bent on "not withholding," or "refraining," his lips (ver. 9), so it is fitting that God should not "withhold," or "refrain" (כלא) his kindness. Let thy loving-kindness and thy truth continually preserve me (compare the last clause of ver. 10). Psalm 40:11The self-presentation before Jahve, introduced by אז אמרתּי, extends from הנה to מעי; consequently בּשּׂרתּי yltn joins on to אמרתי, and the אכלא which stands in the midst of perfects describes the synchronous past. The whole is a retrospect. בּשּׂר, Arab. bššr (root בש), starting from its sensible primary signification to scrape off, scratch off, rub smooth, means: to smooth any one (gltten), Engl. to gladden one, i.e., vultum ejus diducere, to make him joyful and glad, more especially to cheer one by good news (e.g., basharahu or bashsharuhu bi̇maulûdin, bashsharuhu bi-maulûdin, he has cheered him by the intelligence of the birth of a son), in Hebrew directly equivalent to εὐαγγελίζειν (εὐαγγελίζεσθαι). He has proclaimed to all Israel the evangel of Jahve's justifying and gracious rule, which only changes into retribution towards those who despise His love; and he can appeal to the Omniscient One (Jeremiah 15:15), that neither through fear of men, nor through shame and indolence, has he restrained his lips from confessing Him. God's conduct, in accordance with the prescribed order of redemption, is as a matter of fact called צדק, and as an attribute of His holy love, צדקה; just as אמוּנה is His faithfulness which fulfils the promises made and which does not suffer hope to be put to shame, and תּשׁוּעה is His salvation as it is manifested in facts. This rich matter for the preaching of the evangel, which may be comprehended in the two words חסד ועמת, the Alpha and Omega of God's self-attestation in the course of the redemptive history, he has not allowed to slumber as a dead, unfruitful knowledge hidden deep down in his heart. The new song which Jahve put into his mouth, he has also really sung. Thus far we have the first part of the song, which renders thanks for past mercies.
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