Verse 1. - Lord, how are they increased that trouble me: rather, Lord. how numerous are they that trouble me! We arc told, in the Book of Samuel, that "the conspiracy was strong, for the people increased continually with Absalom (2 Samuel 15:12), and again, "Absalom, and all the people, the men of Israel, came to Jerusalem, and Ahithophel with him" (2 Samuel 16:15). Ahithophel proposed to attack David with twelve thousand men only (2 Samuel 17:1), but the actual number which went against him must have been far larger, for some twenty thousand men, chiefly, no doubt, Absalom's partisans, fell in the battle (2 Samuel 18:7). Many are they that rise up against me; i.e. "that rebel against me, and rise up in arras to make war upon me" (comp. Psalm 18:48; Psalm 44:5; Psalm 59:1, etc.).
Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.
Verse 2. - Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. When Absalom first raised the standard of revolt, there were no doubt many who looked to see some signal Divine interposition on behalf of the anointed king and against the rebel; but when David fled, and with so few followers (2 Samuel 15:18), and in his flight spoke so doubtfully of his prospects (2 Samuel 15:26), and when no help seemed to arise from any quarter, then we can well understand that men's opinions changed, and they came to think that David was God-forsaken, and would succumb to his unnatural foe (comp. Psalm 71:10, 11). Partisans of Absalom would see in David's expulsion from his capital a Divine Nemesis (2 Samuel 16:8), and regard it as quite natural that God should not help him. Selah. There is no traditional explanation of this word. The LXX. rendered it by διάψαλμα which is said to mean "a change of the musical tone;" but it is against this explanation that selah occurs sometimes, as here, at the end of a psalm, where no change was possible. Other explanations rest wholly on conjecture, and are valueless.
But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.
Verse 3. - But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; or, about me(see the Revised Version). (For the sentiment, comp. Genesis 15:1; Deuteronomy 33:29; 2 Samuel 22:3; Psalm 28:7; Psalm 33:20; Psalm 84:9, etc.) The expression has peculiar force in David's mouth, who, as a "man of war," fully appreciated the saving power of a shield. My glory (comp. Psalm 62:7). And the lifter up of mine head. As God had raised up David to the throne (2 Samuel 2:4; 2 Samuel 5:3), and prospered him in his wars (2 Samuel 8:1-14), and exalted him above all the other kings of the period, so he was well able now, if he so willed, to restore him to his place and re-establish him in the monarchy (comp. 2 Samuel 15:25; Psalm 43:3).
I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.
Verse 4. - I cried unto the Lord with my voice; rather, I cry unto the Lord with my voice; i.e. earnestly and constantly (comp. Psalm 77:1; Psalm 142:1). And he heard (rather, hears) me out of his holy hill; or. "the hilt of his holiness" (comp. Psalm 2:6). Though David is in exile at Mahanaim (2 Samuel 17:24), his thoughts revert to Jerusalem, to the holy hill of Zion, and the ark of God, which he has there" set in its place" (2 Samuel 6:17); and he knows that God, who "dwelleth between the cherubim" (1 Samuel 4:4), will hear him, though so far off. Selah (see the comment on ver. 2).
I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me.
Verse 5. - I laid me down and slept; literally, as for me, I laid me down, etc. A contrast seems intended between the king and some of his companions. "I, for my part," he says, "confident in God, calmly laid me down and slept; I did not allow the danger which I was in to interfere with my repose at night." Others, probably, were less trustful. I awaked. When morning came, i.e., I awoke, as usual, from quiet and refreshing slumbers. For the Lord sustained me; rather, sustaineth me. Now and always I am sustained by the Almighty.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.
Verse 6. - I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people. (On the vast multitude of people that had collected to attack the fugitive king, see the comment on ver. 1.) David, however, did not fear them. Like Asa (2 Chronicles 14:11) and Judas Maccabeus (1 Macc. 3:18), he knew that there was no zeal might in ,' the multitude of an host" (Psalm 33:16). God could save equally with many or with few, and against many or against few (comp. 2 Kings 6:15-17). That have set themselves against me round about; or, ranged themselves against me (Kay) - a military term (comp. Isaiah 22:7).
Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.
Verse 7. - Arise, O Lord (comp. Numbers 10:35; Psalm 7:6; Psalm 9:19; Psalm 10:12; Psalm 17:13; Psalm 68:1). This call is generally made when God's forbearance towards his enemies is thought to have been excessive, and his tolerance of sinners too great. Save me, O my God. David was in imminent danger. "All Israel" had come against him (2 Samuel 16:15). He was short of supplies (2 Samuel 17:29). He was doubtful how God was disposed towards him (2 Samuel 15:25, 26). It was a time when, unless God would save, there could be no hope. Hence the intense earnestness of his prayer. For thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek-bone. Heretofore, i.e., thou hast always taken my part - thou hast smitten mine enemies, and given me victory over them, and by breaking their jaw-bones thou hast taken away from them all power to hurt (see Psalm 58:6). The reference is, of course, to David's long series of victories, as those over the Philistines (2 Samuel 5:17-25; 2 Samuel 8:1), over Moab (2 Samuel 8:2), over Hadadezer, King of Zobah (2 Samuel 8:3, 4), over the Syrians of Damascus (2 Samuel 8:6), over the Edomites (2 Samuel 8:13, 14), over the Ammonites (2 Samuel 10:7-14), and over the "Syrians beyond the river" (2 Samuel 10:16-19). Thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly (comp. Job 4:10; Psalm 58:6). The ungodly, enemies alike of David and of God, are represented as wild beasts whose weapons are their jaws and teeth. Let God break these, and they are harmless.
Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.
Verse 8. - Salvation belongeth unto the Lord; or, salvation is the Lord's (Kay). "To him alone it belongs to save or to destroy. Therefore is my prayer addressed to him, and him only" (see ver. 7). Thy blessing is upon thy people; rather, let thy blessing be upon thy people. "Whatever becomes of me," i.e., "let thy people be blest" (Kay). David is not deterred, by the revolt of almost the whole people against him, from commending them to God, entreating God's blessing upon them, and desiring their welfare. He echoes Moses (Exodus 32:31, 32); he anticipates Christ (Luke 23:34).