<<A Psalm of David.>> Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight:
Verse 1. - Blessed be the Lord my strength; or, "my rock" (comp. Psalm 18:2, 46; Psalm 31:3; Psalm 62:7, etc.). Which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight (comp. Psalm 18:34).
My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust; who subdueth my people under me.
Verse 2. - My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust. The general resemblance to Psalm 18:2 is striking, but there are peculiar and original touches which indicate the author, not the copyist. For instance, the expression, "my goodness," occurs nowhere else. Who subdueth my people under me. Another reading gives, "Who subdueth peoples under me." Either reading suits the circumstances of David, who had to subdue a great portion of his own people under him (2 Samuel 2:8-31; 2 Samuel 3:6-21), and also conquered many foreign nations (2 Samuel 8:1-14).
LORD, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him!
Verse 3. - Lord, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! (comp. Job 7:17, 18; Psalm 8:4). Or the sea of man, that thou makest account of him! It enhances our estimate of God's goodness to consider the insignificance and unworthiness of the creatures on whom he bestows it.
Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away.
Verse 4. - Man is like to vanity; or, "to a breath" (comp. Psalm 39:5; Psalm 62:9). His days are as a shadow that passeth away (see Psalm 102:11; Psalm 119:23). And yet God has regard to this weak creature of an hour.
Bow thy heavens, O LORD, and come down: touch the mountains, and they shall smoke.
Verse 5. - Bow thy heavens, O Lord, and come down. The strain changes. From praise of God's loving-kindness and might, the psalmist proceeds to invoke his aid. Taking his metaphors from Psalm 18:9. "Bow thy heavens, O Lord," he says, "and come down" to earth - appear in thy might, to the discomfiture of thy enemies and the relief of thy faithful ones. Touch the mountains, and they shall smoke. Do as thou wert pleased to do at Sinai, when thou showedst thyself - "Touch the mountains, and let a smoke go up from them" (see Exodus 19:16, 18; Deuteronomy 4:11; Psalm 18:7-14) - a consuming fire, that shall burn up the ungodly.
Cast forth lightning, and scatter them: shoot out thine arrows, and destroy them.
Verse 6. - Cast forth lightning, and scatter them: shoot out thins arrows, and destroy them (comp. Psalm 18:14).
Send thine hand from above; rid me, and deliver me out of great waters, from the hand of strange children;
Verse 7. - Send thine hand from above; literally, reach out thy hands from on high. Rid me; rather, rescue me. And deliver me out of great waters. "Great waters," or "deep waters," is a common metaphor in the Psalms for serious peril. David's peril at this time was from the hand of strange children; literally, sons of strangers; i.e. foreign foes.
Whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood.
Verse 8. - Whose mouth speaketh vanity; rather, fraud (comp. Psalm 18:45). A feigned submission of some foreign enemy is probably glanced at. And their right hand is a right hand of falsehood. The right hand was lifted up in the taking of a solemn oath (see Ezekiel 20:15).
I will sing a new song unto thee, O God: upon a psaltery and an instrument of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee.
Verse 9. - I will sing a new song unto thee, O God. Another change of strain. The psalmist returns to his original theme of the praise of God (see vers. 1, 2), and promises a "new song," as in Psalm 40:3. Upon a psaltery and an instrument of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee; rather, upon a psaltery of ten strings (see the Revised Version, and comp. Psalm 33:2). Assyrian harps had commonly, in the earlier ages, either eight, nine, or ten strings ('Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 1. p. 530, 2nd edit.).
It is he that giveth salvation unto kings: who delivereth David his servant from the hurtful sword.
Verse 10. - It is he that giveth salvation unto kings. There has always been a belief, especially in the East, that "a divinity doth hedge a king." Saul himself was regarded by David as sacrosanct, and to kill him, even at his own request, was a sacrilege (2 Samuel 1:14-16). Who delivereth David his servant from the hurtful sword. David speaks of himself by name, not only here, but in Psalm 18:50; 2 Samuel 7:26.
Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood:
Verse 11. - Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood (see above, vers. 7, 8). The passage is made a refrain, to terminate stanzas 2 and 3.
That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace:
Verse 12. - That our sons may be as plants. The stanza which these words introduce is a very remarkable one, having nothing at all corresponding to it in the rest of the Psalter. It has been thought by some to be an antique document, quoted by the writer of the psalm, as suited for a festal occasion. Our translation makes it a picture of the condition to which the writer hopes that Israel may one day come; but the best recent critics see in it a description of Israel's actual condition in the writer's day. Professor Cheyne translates, "Because our sons are as plants;" and Dr. Kay, "What time our sons are as plants." Grown up in their youth; literally, grown large. The sons are compared to ornamental trees or shrubs, growing outside a building. That our daughters may be as cornerstones, polished (or, "carved") after the similitude of a palace. The daughters are like carved pillars, lighting up the angular recesses of the structure.
That our garners may be full, affording all manner of store: that our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our streets:
Verse 13. - That our garners may be full, affording all manner of store; or, "while our garners are full," etc. That our sheep may bring forth; rather, and our sheep bring forth. Thousands and tea thousands in our streets; rather, in our fields. Khutsoth (חוּצות) is rendered "fields" by our translators in Job 5:10 and Proverbs 8:26.
That our oxen may be strong to labour; that there be no breaking in, nor going out; that there be no complaining in our streets.
Verse 14. - That our oxen may be strong to labor; rather, and our oxen are heavily laden. A sign that an abundant harvest is being gathered in. That there be no breaking in, nor going out; literally, and there is no breach and no removal; i.e. no breach made in our walls, and no removal of our population into captivity. That there be no complaining in our streets; rather, and no wailing in our streets. Here the description of a happy time ends, and a burst of congratulation follows (see the next verse).
Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the LORD.
Verse 15. - Happy is that people, that is in such a case! yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord! The cause of Israel's prosperity is their faithfulness to Jehovah.