I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.
Verses 1, 2. - An introduction, in which the writer declares his love to God, and his resolution to call on him continually, on ac count of his having been delivered from an imminent peril. Verse 1. - I love the Lord, because he hath heard; literally, I love, because the Lord (Jehovah) hath heard. The object of this love is not expressed, but can only be Jehovah. Still, the grammatical construction is unusual, and has caused the suggestion of an emendation. For אהבתי Professor Cheyne would read האמנתי as at the beginning of ver. 10. My voice and my supplications; literally, my voice, my supplications - the latter expression being exegetical of the former.
Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.
Verse 2. - Because he hath inclined his ear unto me (compare the expression of Hezekiah in Isaiah 37:17, "Incline thine ear, O Lord, and hear"). Therefore will I call upon him as long as I live; literally, in my days - another expression attributed to Hezekiah in the history (Isaiah 39:8). Lifelong gratitude and praise are promised by Hezekiah to God in Isaiah 38:20.
The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.
Verses 3-9. - The psalmist describes his trouble (ver. 3), his prayer for deliverance (ver. 4), and his actual deliverance (vers. 5-9). Verse 3. - The sorrows of death compassed me; literally, the cords of death (comp. Psalm 18:4, where the same expression is used). Death is pictured as seizing his victim and binding him with cords. And the pains of hell gat hold upon me; or, "the straits of hell" (comp. Psalm 118:5; Lamentations 1:3). Death and hell (shell) are closely connected together in the prayer of Hezekiah (Isaiah 38:10, 18). I found trouble and sorrow; or, "anguish and woe" (comp. Isaiah 38:12-17).
Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.
Verse 4. - Then celled I upon the Name of the Lord. "Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the Lord" (Isaiah 38:2). O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul (compare the words of Isaiah 38:3, "Remember now, O Lord, I beseech thee").
Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.
Verse 5. - Gracious is the Lord, and righteous. God's answers to prayer show him to be both "gracious" and "righteous" - gracious, because it is of his mercy that he listens to men; righteous, because, having promised to hear prayer, he is bound to keep his promises. Yea, our God is merciful; or, "compassionate."
The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.
Verse 6. - The Lord preserveth the simple; i.e. "the simple-minded" - those who are without guile or artifice (comp. Psalm 19:7). I was brought low. The same verb is used here as in Isaiah 38:14, where it is translated "fail" ("mine eyes fail"). It expresses extreme weakness, or exhaustion. And he helped me; or, "saved me" (comp. Isaiah 38:20).
Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.
Verse 7. - Return unto thy rest, O my soul. "Return," i.e., "to thy state of tranquility, the condition in which thou wast before the imminent danger showed itself." For the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee. If Hezekiah is the writer, the "bountiful dealing" will be the addition of fifteen years to his life (Isaiah 38:5). If a poet just re turned from the Captivity, the return and the reoccupation of the Holy Land will be especially in his thoughts (comp. Psalm 85:1).
For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.
Verse 8. - For thou hast delivered my soul from death. This verse is exegetical of the last clause of ver. 4. The expressions are taken from Psalm 56:13, and suit a personal better than a national deliverance. Mine eyes from tears. Hezekiah, when told that his death was approaching, had "wept sore" (Isaiah 38:3). And my feet from falling; literally, and my foot from slipping When man is greatly tried, there is always danger lest his foot should slip. Whether the trial befall an individual or a nation, there is the same temptation to rebel and murmur.
I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.
Verse 9. - I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living; rather, lands of the living; i.e. my deliverance will enable me to walk at leisure, unhurried and free from care, in the broad regions of earth inhabited by the living.
I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted:
Verses 10, 11. - Parenthetic and obscure. Both the connection and rendering are doubtful. Professor Cheyne translates, "I was confident that I should speak thus;" i.e. even while my affliction was going on, I felt confident that relief would come, and that I should one day speak as I have just spoken. I was, however, too sorely afflicted to give utterance to my feeling. Instead of so doing, I vented my unhappiness in abuse of my fellow-men. Thus understood, the words are an apologia. Verse 10. - I believed, therefore have I spoken. So the LXX., Ἐπίστευσα διὸ ἐλάλησα. But many other meanings are suggested. See the preceding paragraph. I was greatly afflicted (comp. ver. 3).
I said in my haste, All men are liars.
Verse 11. - I said in my haste, All men are liars. The connection of the thoughts is not apparent, unless God's faithfulness (vers. 5-8) suggests man's unfaithfulness.
What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?
Verses 12-19. - The psalm closes with a thanksgiving for the deliverance vouchsafed. What return can the psalmist make? First, he will accept the blessing joyfully; next, he will ever continue to call upon God (ver. 13; comp. vers. 4, 17); thirdly, he will pay his vows openly in the temple, in the presence of the whole congregation (vers. 14, 18); fourthly, he will offer continually the sacrifice of thanksgiving (ver. 17) for the benefits vouchsafed him. The enumeration of his pious intentions is itself a song of praise to the Almighty. Verse 12. - What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? Natural piety suggests a return for favors received. What shall this be? the psalmist asks, and then proceeds to give the answer.
I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.
Verse 13. - I will take the cup of salvation. It has been usual to explain this of actual participation in the contents of a cup offered at a sacrificial meal, and then passed round to the worshippers. But there is no clear evidence of any such usage, except in connection with the Passover, which cannot here be in question. Hengstenberg there fore proposes to regard the phrase as a mere metaphor, like the "cup of trembling" (Isaiah 51:17, 22), and understands the psalmist to mean that he will gladly and thankfully receive God's mercy vouchsafed to him, and thus show his gratitude for it. And call upon the Name of the Lord (comp. vers. 4 and 17).
I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people.
Verse 14. - I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people (comp. vers. 18, 19, where the thought is repeated, and lengthened out). We are not told in Isaiah or 2 Kings that Hezekiah made any vows when he lay on his sick bed, but he may probably have done so. He certainly intended, as soon as his cure was complete, to "go up to the house of the Lord" (2 Kings 20:8; Isaiah 38:22).
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
Verse 15. - Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints (comp. Psalm 72:14). It is not a matter of indifference to God, when and under what circumstances each of his saints dies. Rather, it is a matter of deep concern to him. "In him are the issues of life and death" (Psalm 68:20), and he appoints to each man the day and attendant circumstances of his demise.
O LORD, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds.
Verse 16. - O Lord, truly I am thy servant; rather, even so, O Lord, for I am thy servant. Entitled, therefore, to thy care and consideration. I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid (comp. Psalm 86:16). "Thine handmaid" - the Church; or, if the writer is Hezekiah, "thy handmaid, Abiyah, the daughter of Zechariah," who "had under standing in the vision of God" (2 Chronicles 26:5; 2 Chronicles 29:1). Thou hast loosed my bonds. The "cords of death" (ver. 3) are probably intended.
I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.
Verse 17. - I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Scarcely an actual sacrifice. Rather, simple thanksgiving, which, from a sincere heart, is the best sacrifice (see Psalm 50:14 and Hosea 14:2). And will call upon the Name of the Lord (comp. vers. 4 and 13).
I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people,
Verse 18. - I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people. Compare the comment on ver. 14, whereof this is a repetition.
In the courts of the LORD'S house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the LORD.
Verse 19. - In the courts of the Lord's house. Thanksgiving was always most appropriately offered in the temple courts, where close at hand dwelt the mysterious presence of God, and where God had appointed that his worshippers should appear before him. In the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. This expression and the preceding suit well with Hezekiah's authorship of the psalm, as Dr. Kay well argues. Praise ye the Lord. The writer calls on all those present (see ver. 18) to join him in singing praise to God (comp. Psalm 104, 105, 106, 113, 115, 117.).