Psalm 6:4
Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for your mercies' sake.
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Psalm 6:4-5. Return — Unto me, from whom thou hast withdrawn thy smiling countenance and helping hand. Deliver my soul — From guilt and fear; or preserve my life, for the word soul often signifies life. David, and other pious men in those times, were much averse to, and afraid of death, partly because the manifestations of God’s love to his people, and the discoveries of an immortal state of glory awaiting them after death, were then more dark and doubtful; and partly because thereby they were deprived of all opportunities of advancing God’s glory and kingdom in the world. For in death — Or among the dead, or in the grave, as it follows; there is no remembrance of thee — This is meant only of the bodies of persons deceased; not of their souls, which still survive, and do not sleep till the resurrection, as some have vainly imagined: and yet even their souls are incapable, when departed from the body, of remembering, praising, and glorifying God, in his church on earth; of celebrating his mercy and grace in the land of the living; of propagating his worship, or of exciting others to piety by their example: which is the remembrance of God of which he speaks. Hence, also, good men have often desired to have their lives prolonged, even under the Christian, as well as under the Patriarchal and Jewish dispensation, that they might be capable of glorifying God, and of fully executing his will in this world, in order, as the Hebrews speak, to increase the reward of their souls in the world to come.6:1-7 These verses speak the language of a heart truly humbled, of a broken and contrite spirit under great afflictions, sent to awaken conscience and mortify corruption. Sickness brought sin to his remembrance, and he looked upon it as a token of God's displeasure against him. The affliction of his body will be tolerable, if he has comfort in his soul. Christ's sorest complaint, in his sufferings, was of the trouble of his soul, and the want of his Father's smiles. Every page of Scripture proclaims the fact, that salvation is only of the Lord. Man is a sinner, his case can only be reached by mercy; and never is mercy more illustrious than in restoring backsliders. With good reason we may pray, that if it be the will of God, and he has any further work for us or our friends to do in this world, he will yet spare us or them to serve him. To depart and be with Christ is happiest for the saints; but for them to abide in the flesh is more profitable for the church.Return, O Lord, deliver my soul - As if he had departed from him, and had left him to die. The word "soul" in this place is used, as it often is, in the sense of "life," for in the next verse he speaks of the grave to which he evidently felt he was rapidly descending.

O save me - Save my life; save me from going down to the grave. Deliver me from these troubles and dangers.

For thy mercies' sake -

(a) As an act of mere mercy, for he felt that he had no claim, and could not urge it as a matter of right and justice; and

(b) in order that God's mercy might be manifest, or because he was a merciful Being, and might, therefore, be appealed to on that ground.

These are proper grounds, now, on which to make an appeal to God for his interposition in our behalf; and, indeed, these are the only grounds on which we can plead with him to save us.

4. Return—that is, to my relief; or, "turn," as now having His face averted.

for thy mercies' sake—to illustrate Thy mercy.

Return unto me, from whom thou hast withdrawn thyself, and thy smiling countenance, and thy helping hand.

Deliver my soul, i.e. save me or my life, as the soul oft signifies, as Genesis 9:5 12:5 Job 36:4 Psalm 33:19. David and other good men in those times were much afraid of death, partly because the manifestations of God’s grace to his people were then more dark and doubtful, and partly because thereby they were deprived of all opportunities of advancing God’s glory and kingdom in the world. Compare Isaiah 38:1-3. Return, O Lord,.... By this it seems that the Lord had withdrawn himself, and was departed from the psalmist, wherefore he entreats him to return unto him, and grant him his gracious presence. God is immense and omnipresent, he is everywhere: going away and returning cannot be properly ascribed to him; but he, nay be said to depart from his people, as to sensible communion with him, and enjoyment of him, when he hides his face, withdraws his gracious presence, and the comfortable discoveries and influences of his love; and he may be said to return when he visits them again, and manifests his love and favour to them: the Jewish writers (d) interpret it,

"return from the fierceness of thine anger,''

as in Psalm 85:3; and though there is no such change in God, as from love to wrath, and from wrath to love; but inasmuch as there is a change in his dispensations towards his people, it is as if it was so; and thus it is apprehended by them;

deliver my soul; from the anxiety, distress, and sore vexation it was now in, for of all troubles soul troubles are the worst: and from all enemies and workers of iniquity which were now about him, and gave him much grief and uneasiness; and from death itself, he was in fear of;

O, save me for thy mercy's sake; out of all troubles of soul and body, and out of the hands of all enemies, inward and outward; and with temporal, spiritual, and eternal salvation; not for his righteousness's sake, as Kimchi well observes; for salvation is according to the abundant mercy of God, and not through works of righteousness done by men, otherwise it would not be of grace.

(d) Jarchi, Aben Ezra, Kimchi, & Ben Melech in loc.

Return, O LORD, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake.
4. Return] For Jehovah seems to have abandoned him. Cp. Psalm 90:13.

O save me for thy mercy’s sake] R.V., save me for thy lovingkindness’ sake. Jehovah declares Himself to be “a God … plenteous in lovingkindness and truth, who keeps lovingkindness for thousands” (Exodus 34:7-8), and the Psalmist intreats Him to be true to this central attribute in His own revelation of His character.

4–7. He renews his prayer, and in a calmer tone, reasons with God.Verse 4. - Return, O Lord. God seemed to have withdrawn himself, to have, forsaken the mourner, and gone far away (comp. Psalm 22:1). Hence the cry, "Return" (comp. Psalm 80:14; Psalm 90:13). Nothing is so hard to endure as the feeling of being deserted by God. Deliver my soul. "The psalmist feels himself so wretched in soul and body, that he believes himself to be near death" (Hengstenberg). His prayer here is, primarily, for deliverance from this impending danger, as appears clearly from the following verse, Save me for thy mercys' sake. Either a repetition of the preceding prayer in other words, or an enlargement of it so as to include salvation of every kind. (Heb.: 5:11-13) The verb אשׁם or אשׁם unites in itself the three closely allied meanings of becoming guilty (e.g., Leviticus 5:19), of a feeling of guilt (Leviticus 5:4.), and of expiation (Psalm 34:22.); just as the verbal adj. אשׁם also signifies both liable to punishment and expiating, and the substantive אשׁם both the guilt to be expiated and the expiation. The Hiph. האשׁים signifies to cause any one to render the expiation due to his fault, to make him do penance. As an exception God is here, in the midst of the Jehovic Psalms, called אלהים, perhaps not altogether unintentionally as being God the Judge. The מן of ממּעצותיהם (with Gaja by the מן and a transition of the counter-tone Metheg into Galgal, as in Hosea 11:6 into Meajla, vid., Psalter ii. 526) is certainly that of the cause in Hosea 11:6, but here it is to be explained with Olsh. and Hitz. according to Sir. 14:2, Judith 11:6 (cf. Hosea 10:6): may they fall from their own counsels, i.e., founder in the execution of them. Therefore מן in the sense of "down from, away," a sense which the parallel הדּיחמו thrust them away (cf. דּחוּ from דּחה Psalm 36:13), presupposes. The ב of בּרב is to be understood according to John 8:21, John 8:24 "ye shall die ἐν ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις ὑμῶν." The multitude of their transgressions shall remain unforgiven and in this state God is to cast them into hades. The ground of this terrible prayer is set forth by כּי מרוּ בך. The tone of מרוּ, for a well-known reason (cf. e.g., Psalm 37:40; Psalm 64:11; Psalm 72:17) has retreated to the penult. מרה, root מר, prop. to be or hold one's self stiff towards any one, compare Arab. mârr, tmârr, to press and stiffen against one another in wrestling, Arab. mârâ, tmârâ, to struggle against anything, whether with outward or mental and moral opposition. Their obstinacy is not obstinacy against a man, but against God Himself; their sin is, therefore, Satanic and on that account unpardonable. All the prayers of this character are based upon the assumption expressed in Psalm 7:13, that those against whom they are directed do not wish for mercy. Accordingly their removal is prayed for. Their removal will make the ecclesia pressa free and therefore joyous. From this point of view the prayer in Psalm 5:12 is inspired by the prospect of the result of their removal. The futt. do not express a wish, but a consequence. The division of the verse is, however, incorrect. The rise of the first half of the verse closes with בך (the pausal form by Pazer), its fall is לעולם ירנּנוּ; then the rise begins anew in the second half, extending to בך which ought likewise to be pointed בך, and אהבי שׁמך is its fall. ותסך עלימו (from הסך Hiph. of סכך Psalm 91:4) is awkward in this sequence of thoughts. Hupfeld and Hitzig render it: "they shall rejoice for ever whom Thou defendest;" but then it ought not only to be pointed ירנּנוּ, but the ו must also be removed, and yet there is nothing to characterise תסך עלימו as being virtually a subject. On the other hand it does not harmonise with the other consecutive futures. It must therefore, like יפּלוּ, be the optative: "And do Thou defend them, then shall those who love Thy name rejoice in Thee." And then upon this this joy of those who love the name of Jahve (i.e., God in His revelation of Himself in redemption) Psalm 69:37; Psalm 119:132, is based by כּי־אתּה from a fact of universal experience which is the sum of all His historical self-attestations. עלימו is used instead of עליהם as a graver form of expression, just like הדּיחמו for הדּיחם as an indignant one. The form ויעלצוּ (Ges. 63, 3) is chosen instead of the יעלצוּ found in Psalm 25:2; Psalm 68:4, in order to assist the rhythm. The futt. are continuative. תּעטרנּוּ, cinges eum, is not a contracted Hiph. according to 1 Samuel 17:25, but Kal as in 1 Samuel 23:26; here it is used like the Piel in Psalm 8:6 with a double accusative. The צנּה (from צנן Arab. tsân, med. Waw, Aethiop. צון to hedge round, guard) is a shield of a largest dimensions; larger than מגן 1 Kings 10:16. (cf. 1 Samuel 17:7, where Goliath has his צנּה borne by a shield-bearer). כּצּנּה "like a shield" is equivalent to: as with a shield (Ges. 118, 3, rem.). The name of God, יהוה, is correctly drawn to the second member of the verse by the accentuation, in order to balance it with the first; and for this reason the first clause does not begin with כי־אתה יהוה here as it does elsewhere (Psalm 4:9; Psalm 12:8). רצון delight, goodwill, is also a synonym for the divine blessing in Deuteronomy 33:23.
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