Verse 1. - O Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath (comp. Psalm 6:1, where the first of the penitential psalms begins similarly). The prayer is for the cessation of God's wrath, rather than of the "rebuke" which has resulted from it. Neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure (see the comment on Psalm 6:1).
For thine arrows stick fast in me, and thy hand presseth me sore.
Verse 2. - For thine arrows stick fast in me. (On the "arrows" of the Almighty, see above, Psalm 7:13; and comp. Job 6:4; Psalm 18:14; Psalm 45:5; Psalm 64:7; Psalm 77:17, etc.) It has been maintained that by "God's arrows" only sickness is meant (Hitzig); but the contrary appears from Deuteronomy 32:23-25. Hengstenberg is right, "The arrows of the Almighty denote all the chastisements of sin depending on God." And thy hand presseth me sore. The verb used is the same in both clauses; but it is difficult to express both ideas by one term in English. Dr. Kay makes the attempt by translating, "For thine arrows have sunk deep in me; yea, thine hand sank heavily on me."
There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin.
Verse 3. - There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger. The psalmist begins with a description of his bodily troubles; and, first of all, declares that there is "no soundness in his flesh," i.e. no healthiness, no feeling of vigour, no vital strength. Neither is there any rest in my bones, he says, because of my sin. His bones ache continually, and give him no rest (comp. Psalm 6:2; Psalm 22:14; Psalm 31:10; Psalm 42:10; and Job 30:17, 30).
For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me.
Verse 4. - For mine iniquities are gone over mine head; i.e. they overwhelm me like waves of the sea. Together with my bodily pain is mingled mental anguish - a sense of regret and remorse on account of my ill-doing, and a conviction that by my sins I have brought upon me my sufferings. As an heavy burden they are too heavy for me. They press me down, crush me to the earth, are more than I can bear.
My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness.
Verse 5. - My wounds stink and are corrupt. The writer reverts to his bodily pains. He has "wounds," which "stink" and "are corrupt;" or "fester and become noisome," which may be boils, or bed-sores, and which make him a loathsome object to others (comp. Job 9:19; Job 30:18). Because of my foolishness. Because I was so foolish as to forsake the way of righteousness, and allow sin to get the dominion over me.
I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long.
Verse 6. - I am troubled; literally, bent; which some take physically, and explain as "twisted by violent spasms," others, psychically, as "warped in mind," "driven crazy." I am bowed down greatly; i.e. bowed to earth, crooked, as men are in extreme old age, or by such maladies as lumbago and rheumatism. I go mourning all the day long. My gait is that of a mourner - I stoop and move slowly.
For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh.
Verse 7. - For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease; my loins are full of burning (Kay, Revised Version). A burning pain in the lumbar region is apparently intended. And there is no soundness in my flesh. Repeated from ver. 3.
I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart.
Verse 8. - I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart. In concluding his accounts of his physical condition, the writer passes from details to more vague and general statements. He is "feeble," i.e. generally weak and wanting in vigour - he is "sore broken," or "sore bruised" (Revised Version), i.e. full of aches and pains, as though he had been bruised all over - and the "disquietness of his heart" causes him to vent his anguish in "roarings," or groanings.
Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee.
Verses 9-14. - In this second strophe the physical are subordinated to the moral sufferings; the former being touched on in one verse only (ver. 10), the latter occupying the rest of the section. Of these the most tangible are the pain caused by the desertion of his "lovers," "friends," and "kinsmen" (ver. 11), and the alarm arising from the action taken, simultaneously, by his ill wishers and adversaries (ver. 12). These afflictions have reduced him to a condition of silence - almost of apathy, such as is described in vers. 13, 14. Verse 9. - Lord, all my desire is before thee; and my groaning is not hid from thee. This has been called "the first indication of hope in this psalm;" but there is a gleam of hope in the prayer of ver. 1. Hope, however, does here show itself more plainly than before. The psalmist has laid "all his desire" before God, and feels that God is weighing and considering it. He has also opened to him "all his groanings" - uttered freely all his complaint. This he could have been led to do only from a conviction that God was not irrevocably offended with him, but might, by repentance, confession, and earnest striving after amendment (ver. 20), be reconciled, and induced to become his Defence (ver. 15) and his Salvation (ver. 22).
My heart panteth, my strength faileth me: as for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me.
Verse 10. - My heart panteth. This verse, which reverts to the bodily sufferings, seems a little out of place. But Hebrew poetry is not logical, and cares little for exact arrangement. Three more bodily troubles are noticed, of which this is the first - the heart "pants," i.e. throbs, or palpitates violently. My strength faileth me. The strength suddenly fails. As for the light of mine eyes, it also is gone from me. The sight swims, and is swallowed up in darkness (comp. Job 17:7).
My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; and my kinsmen stand afar off.
Verse 11. - My lovers and my friends stand aloof from my sore; or, from my stroke (comp. Psalm 39:10, where the same word is used). The psalmist feels himself to be "stricken, smitten of God" (Isaiah 53:4). He looks for comfort and sympathy to his friends, but they, with a selfishness that is only too common, hold aloof, draw away item him, and desert him (comp. Job 19:13, 14). And my kinsmen stand afar off; or, my neighbours. The stricken deer is forsaken by the rest of the herd (comp. Matthew 26:56, 58).
They also that seek after my life lay snares for me: and they that seek my hurt speak mischievous things, and imagine deceits all the day long.
Verse 12. - They also that seek after my life lay snares for me. To the desertion of friends is added the persecution of enemies, who take advantage of the debility and prostration caused by sickness to plot against the writer's life, to "lay snares for him," and devise evil against him. Those who assign the psalm to David suppose the devices described in 2 Samuel 15:1-6 to he referred to. And they that seek my hurt speak mischievous things, and imagine deceits all the day long; literally, speak malignity; i.e. calumniate me - bring false accusations against me (comp. 2 Samuel 16:7, 8).
But I, as a deaf man, heard not; and I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth.
Verse 13. - But I, as a deaf man, heard not. I took no notice, i.e. I made as if I was deaf. And I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth. So far this psalmist, whether David or another, was a type of Christ (see Isaiah 53:7; Matthew 26:63; Matthew 27:14; 1 Peter 2:23).
Thus I was as a man that heareth not, and in whose mouth are no reproofs.
Verse 14. - Thus I was as a man that heareth not, and in whose mouth are no reproofs; i.e. I was like a man who is unable to answer, to reprove, or rebuke an adversary. So great was my self-restraint.
For in thee, O LORD, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God.
Verse 15. - For in thee, O Lord, do I hope. Thus I acted, because my hope was in thee. I looked for thy interposition. I knew that thou wouldst "maintain my right, and my cause" (Psalm 9:4) in thine own good time and in thine own good way. I said to myself in my heart, Thou wilt hear - or rather, thou wilt answer (Revised Version) - O Lord my God; and I was content to leave my defence to thee.
For I said, Hear me, lest otherwise they should rejoice over me: when my foot slippeth, they magnify themselves against me.
Verse 16. - For I said, Hear me, lest otherwise they should rejoice over me; rather, for I said, I will be silent, lest otherwise they should rejoice over me. I feared lest by answering rashly or intemperately I might give my enemies occasion against me. I knew by experience that, when my foot slippeth, they magnify themselves against me. They are always on the watch to catch at any slip on my part, and make it a ground for magnifying themselves and denying me. Hence my silence.
For I am ready to halt, and my sorrow is continually before me.
Verse 17. - For I am ready to halt. I am weak and helpless, liable at any moment to stumble and fall. And my sorrow is continually before me; i.e. my sin, which I sorrow over, which lies at the root of all my distress (comp. Psalm 51:3).
For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.
Verse 18. - For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin. The four "fors," beginning four consecutive verses, are somewhat puzzling. Canon Cook suggests that they introduce four reasons for the psalmist's silence (vers. 13, 14) and abstinence front self-justification:
(1) because God hears him, and will make answer for him (ver. 15);
(2) because, if he spoke, he might give further occasion to his enemies (ver. 16);
(3) because he feels in danger, and is conscious of sin (ver. 17); and
(4) because he has no course open to him but confession and contrition. If we are justified in attributing the psalm to David, and in assigning its composition to the period immediately preceding Absalom's rebellion, we must look upon it as opening to us a view of David's condition of mind at that time which is of great interest.
But mine enemies are lively, and they are strong: and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied.
Verse 19. - But mine enemies are lively, and they are strong. The psalmist goes back to the thought of his enemies, to whom he has made no answer, and whom he has not ventured to rebuke (vers. 13, 14). He remembers that they are full of life and strength; he calls to mind the fact that they are many in number; he puts on record the cause of their enmity, which is not his sin, but his earnest endeavour to forsake his sin and follow after righteousness (ver. 20); and then, in conclusion, he makes a direct appeal to God for aid against them - first negatively (ver. 21), and then positively in the final outburst, "Make haste to help me, O Lord my Salvation" (ver. 22). And they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied. This suits well the time of Absalom's conspiracy, when day by day more and more of the people forsook David and joined the party of his son. (2 Samuel 15:12, 13).
They also that render evil for good are mine adversaries; because I follow the thing that good is.
Verse 20. - They also that render evil for good are mine adversaries (comp. Psalm 35:12). Because I follow the thing that good is; literally, because I follow good.
Forsake me not, O LORD: O my God, be not far from me.
Verse 21. - Forsake me not, O Lord (comp. Psalm 27:9; Psalm 71:9, 18; Psalm 119:8). God never really forsakes his saints (Psalm 37:28). He withdraws sometimes for wise purposes the sense of his presence and favour, so that they feel as if they were forsaken; but this is only temporary., O my God, be not far from me (comp. Psalm 22:19; Psalm 35:22; Psalm 71:12).
Make haste to help me, O Lord my salvation.
Verse 22. - Make haste to help me, O Lord my Salvation (see Psalm 22:19; Psalm 31:2; Psalm 40:13; Psalm 70:1; Psalm 71:12, etc.). This so frequent cry always shows imminent peril; or at any rate, a belief in it. The writer here was in danger doubly - from disease and from his enemies. Thus he might well cry out.