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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

Psalms 28

 

 

Verses 1-9

Psalm 28

A Psalm of David

1 Unto thee will I cry, O Lord my rock;

Be not silent to me:

Lest, if thou be silent to me,

I become like them that go down into the pit.

2 Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee,

When I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle.

3 Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity,

Which speak peace to their neighbors,

But mischief is in their hearts.

4 Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours:

Give them after the work of their hands;

Render to them their desert.

5 Because they regard not the works of the Lord, nor the operation of his hands,

He shall destroy them, and not build them up.

6 Blessed be the Lord,

Because he hath heard the voice of my supplications.

7 The Lord is my strength and my shield;

My heart trusted in him, and I am helped:

Therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth;

And with my song will I praise him.

8 The Lord is their strength,

And he is the saving strength of his anointed.

9 Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance:

Feed them also, and lift them up for ever.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Its Contents and Composition. Although there are no individual historical features which are sharply and unmistakably prominent, yet this Psalm is not a mere Psalm of general lamentation (De Wette), composed by David for the Buffering and afflicted (Hengst.), or composed by a later poet for liturgical use for the people (Olsh.), as it is pretended with a superabundance in expression and rhythm, as is often the case in the later Psalm and Prophets, in connection with the heaping up of current phrases (Hupf.). We hear in this Psalm the voice of supplication, as it rises pressingly and earnestly, in peril of death, ( Psalm 28:1,) to Jehovah, the Holy One, imploring to be heard ( Psalm 28:2). It is from the mouth and heart of a Prayer of Manasseh, who would not be swept away with evil doers and hypocrites ( Psalm 28:3); and he implores for them righteous recompense ( Psalm 28:4); and he founds this judgment on its necessity and describes it in its reliable workings ( Psalm 28:5), whilst he himself in the certainty of being heard and of the constant protection of Jehovah, praises Him ( Psalm 28:6), and furthermore will praise Him thankfully in songs ( Psalm 28:7); for Jehovah is the Protector and Deliverer of His people and His anointed ( Psalm 28:8). Finally he prays for continual blessings for the people—they are the property of Jehovah ( Psalm 28:9). These last two verses must then be regarded as the words of the anointed himself unless we should regard them as an appendix of intercession for the king and the people (Hupf.), and there is no apparent occasion for uniting them with the preceding verses. It is then more appropriate to think of David as the author, in the time of the trouble with Absalom, although the “longing turning towards the sanctuary” (Delitzsch) is not very apparent. This is better than to think of Josiah (Ewald), or Jeremiah (Hitzig). There are frequent and evident resemblances to the preceding Psalm.

Str. I. [ Psalm 28:1. To Thee Jehovah, do I cry; My rock, be not silent from me, lest, if Thou be silent from me, I become like them that go down to the pit.—The A. V. is not properly punctuated. My rock belongs to the second clause. For the meaning of rock vid. Psalm 18:2. The preposition מִן, from, is used with a pregnant meaning = Turn not away from me in silence, (De Wette, Moll. Perowne, et al ).[FN10] The pit is the grave in its narrower and broader sense. Comp. Isaiah 14:15; Psalm 30:4; Psalm 88:6.

Psalm 28:2. When I lift up my hands.[FN11]—To lift up the hands and spread them out towards heaven was the usual posture of prayer with the Hebrews, ( 1 Kings 8:22, Isaiah 1:15), so likewise among the Greeks and other ancient nations. And so also they were lifted up towards the sanctuary at Jerusalem, especially by the later Jews. So the Mahometans pray towards Mecca, and the Samaritans towards the holy place of Mt. Gerizim.—C. A. B.]—To Thy holy throne-hall.—This is literally the back room as a local designation of the Most Holy place, ( 1 Kings 6:5; 1 Kings 6:16 sq, 1 Kings 8:6; 1 Kings 8:8), where was the throne of God ( 1 Kings 8:30; 1 Kings 8:39; 1 Kings 8:43; 1 Kings 8:49) in the temple ( 1 Kings 8:30; Daniel 6:11, Psalm 5:7,) as in heaven ( 1 Kings 8:22; 1 Kings 8:54), to which the hands were lifted up ( Psalm 63:4; Psalm 134:2; Psalm 141:2; Lamentations 2:19), and spread out ( Psalm 143:6; Exodus 9:29; Exodus 9:33; 1 Kings 8:22; 1 Kings 8:38; 1 Kings 8:54; Joshua 1:15) corresponding with the lifting up of the heart ( Psalm 24:4; Lamentations 3:41). This meaning of debîr is completely proved by comparing with the Arabic, comp. Delitzsch and Hupfeld in loco. This was first proved by C. B. Michaelis in1735 in a dissertation (now printed in Potts. sylloge V:131 sq). then first by Conrad Iken1748 in his Diss. Phil. Theol. I:214 sq. In accordance with the derivation from dibber = speak, which Hengstenberg again justifies, the ancient interpreters thought of an audience-room and parlor, and translated it by oraculum,λαλητήριον, χρηματιστὴριον. Luther translates, chor. [A. V holy oracle].[FN12]

[Str. II. Psalm 28:3. Draw me not away, e.g, to destruction, vid. Psalm 26:9; Ezekiel 32:20; Job 24:22.—Who speak peace.—They make peaceful and friendly professions whilst plotting mischief and war, hypocrites, dissemblers, frequently alluded to in the Psalm.—C. A. B.]

[Str. III. Psalm 28:4. Render to them their desert.—Delitzsch: “This phrase הֵשִׁיב גְמוּל, which is frequently used by the prophets, means to recompense, or repay to any one what he has performed or rendered, likewise what he has committed or deserved. The thought and its expression remind us of Isaiah 3:8-11; Isaiah 1:16.”

Psalm 28:5. Because they regard not.—Delitzsch: “The propriety of prayer for recompense is derived from their blindness towards the righteous and gracious government of God in human history (comp. Isaiah 5:12; Isaiah 22:11).—The contrast of בָנָה, build, with חָרָם, tear down is in the style of Jeremiah ( Jeremiah 42:10, comp. Jeremiah 1:10, Psalm 18:9, et al.”—C. A. B.]

[Str. IV. Psalm 28:6. Because He hath heard,—Hupfeld: “This is not a praising God because He has actually heard, this being presupposed in the perfect, שָׁמָר as Psalm 6:9 sq.; Psalm 20:7; Psalm 26:12; Psalm 31:22 sq.; nor as if he had, in the mean time, received an answer from the sanctuary ( Psalm 28:2) as Hengstenberg supposes; but in the confidence of faith.”—C. A. B.]

[Str. V. Psalm 28:7. With my song will I praise Him.—The Vulgate has a different reading here, following the Sept. [It reads my flesh (caro mea, σἀρξ μου) for my heart in the third clause, and my will (ex voluntate mea, ἐκθελήματός μου) for my Song of Solomon, in the fourth clause.—Delitzsch: “In מִשִּׁירִי the song is regarded as the source of the הוֹדוֹת. From his sorrows springs the Song of Solomon, and from the song springs the praise of Him who has taken these sorrows away.”—C. A. B.]

Str. VI. Psalm 28:8. Jehovah is protection for them.—This turns the glance upon the true members of the people whose fortune the Psalmist bears upon his heart together with his own, although they have not been mentioned before. Hitzig and Delitzsch very properly reject the correction of לָמוֹ, which all codd. have, into לְעַמּוֹ that Isaiah, for his people, however appropriate this might be.—And He is the saving defence of His anointed.—This is literally, the defence of deliverance. [Delitzsch: “Jehovah is then עֹז because He mightily preserves them from the destruction into which they themselves would fall or be plunged by others; and He is the מָעוֹז יְשׁוּעוֹת of His anointed because He surrounds him as an inaccessible place of refuge; which secures him salvation in its fulness, instead of the ruin contemplated.”—C. A. B.]

Psalm 28:9. Feed them and bear them forever.—This reminds us of Deuteronomy 1:31; Deuteronomy 32:11, Isaiah 63:9 and the conclusion itself of Psalm 3, 29. [Perowne: “It is impossible not to see in these tender, loving words, ‘feed them and bear them,’ the heart of the shepherd king. Feed them, O, Thou true Shepherd of Israel, ( Psalm 80:1): bear them, carry them in Thine arms ( Isaiah 63:9; Isaiah 40:11).—C. A. B.]

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. If God could be deaf and dumb to the supplications of His servant, there could be neither comfort nor hope for him. And if God should turn away from him, his ruin would be certain. But then the servant of God would share the fate of the wicked. This however is impossible, so long as the servant of God is neither unfaithful nor a hypocrite. If he can really establish himself on God as his rock, when he lifts up his hands and heart in faith ( Psalm 28:7), to the God enthroned in the Holiest of All, then he will experience, that even on the brink of an abyss there is a way of escape and he will not be drawn down into its depths with the ungodly. For God is just, and shows Himself in His unchangeable faithfulness and truth as a rock, to those who trust in Him and abide by Him. Moreover when threatened with ruin, all depends on this alone, his showing himself by his conduct as standing on this rock and fortifying himself there by his actions.

2. If we not only set before our eyes the judgments of God, but likewise establish ourselves near to God and on His side, then there arises partly a feeling of security in the protection of God, which discloses itself at once as the assurance of being heard in prayer, partly a strong feeling of the contrast between ourselves and ungodly and hypocritical oppressors. This feeling looks at their conduct as they sin against God and their neighbors, and sees that it will be doubly punished, and it discloses itself in appealing to God to execute His judgments. Under such circumstances and feelings it is possible to pray; recompense them, without sinning.

3. The characteristics of the ungodly, and the indications of their swift ruin, are their not observing the doings and actions of God, which are exactly opposed to their own. God will be constantly less intelligible and conceivable to them whilst they blind themselves in such a manner that they fancy that they can not only deceive men by their hypocrisy, but likewise can escape the judgment of God by not observing the Divine government. But the less attention they give to these things, the deeper they involve themselves in wicked plans, and the more surely they fall when they least expect it, into the recompensing hand of God.

4. God is the Avenger and Deliverer, Defence and Helper, not only for His anointed, but likewise for His people. For He is not only their Lord who will not allow His property and inheritance to be taken from Him; but He is likewise their Shepherd who watches and protects, cares for and leads the people especially belonging to Him; He is their God and Father, who bears them in their weakness, “at all times from of old,” ( Isaiah 63:9), as a man his son ( Deuteronomy 1:31) and as an eagle her young ( Deuteronomy 32:11) lifting them above all hindrances, and bearing them forth out of all dangers, and thus raising them above all present and all future enemies. ( 2 Samuel 5:12).—“To His work you must look if your work is to endure” (P. Gerhardt).

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

When trouble increases, trust in God must not decrease; our prayers must not be silent, though God for a while is silent.—That prayers are not heard for a while, is no sign that God is angry, but that He would try our faith, and train us in patience.Great sufferings cannot choke the desire for prayer so long as the heart does not become faint-hearted.—The confidence of the pious in God’s assistance against ungodly enemies, has its ground not in the feeling of personal worth, but in the assurance of Divine righteousness.—Not to observe the Divine government, is a characteristic of the ungodly and the sign of their ruin.—Many trouble themselves no more with God’s judgment than they do with His commandments; but he who transgresses the latter cannot escape the former.—God recompenses justly; therefore fear His judgment, but trust in His righteousness.—The innocent may suffer much and long; but they will not call upon God in vain, and even when they die they will not be swept away with the guilty.—A pious king seeks not only his own deliverance, but the salvation of his people at the same time.—He who trusts God, has built well.—God not only protects His own children, in time, but He likewise blesses them for eternity.

Starke: O how sweet it is for the soul, when God hears it and it is sure of this in its inmost nature! but how painful it is when God is silent! and yet we must persevere in patience, until it shall please Him to hear our prayer.—He who would not be carried away with the ungodly in the judgment of God, must be on his guard against their sins.—To desire punishment for our enemies out of a spirit of revenge, is not Christian; but we may sigh to the righteous Judge against the enemies of God and His glory.—If God were not the strength and protection of His Church, how could it endure the power of its enemies?—If the Lord is our strength, why do we ever lament our weakness? Is that not perhaps a palliation of our indolence?—Franke: In external trouble hypocrites and the ungodly go to God in order to be freed from them; but they do not think of being delivered from their troubles of sin, and therefore it is no wonder, that they are unable to speak of answers to prayer.—Renschel: Although the pious dwell among the ungodly yet they are distinguished from them, 1) by their prayers; 2) by their life; 3) by their reward.—Frisch: The help which God has postponed He has not refused.—Herberger: God’s silence often brings the greatest sorrow; but God is often silent in order that He may hear thee with all the more love.—Tholuck: He who keeps the Lord before him as the Mighty One, and can hope in His strength, is already helped.—Taube: The prayer of the pious in trouble is an evidence that they have the refuge as well as need it.

[Matth. Henry: Nothing can be so cutting, so killing, to a gracious soul as the want of God’s favor, and the sense of His displeasure.—Those who are careful not to partake with sinners in their sins have reason to hope that they shall not partake with them in their plagues, Revelation 18:4.—A stupid regardlessness of the works of God is the cause of the sin of sinners, and so becomes the cause of their ruin.—The saints rejoice in their friends’ comforts as well as their own; for as we have no less benefit by the light of the sun, so neither by the light of God’s countenance, for others sharing therein; for we are sure there is enough for all, and enough for each.—Those, and those only, whom God feeds and rules, that are willing to be taught and guided, and governed by Him, shall be saved, and blessed, and lifted up forever.—Barnes: It is sufficient for us to feel that God hears us; for if this is Song of Solomon, we have the assurance that all is right. In this sense, certainly, it is right to look for an immediate answer to our prayers.—Spurgeon: The thorn at the breast of the nightingale was said by the old naturalists to make it sing; David’s grief made him eloquent in holy psalmody.—God’s voice is often so terrible that it shakes the wilderness; but His silence is equally full of awe to an eager suppliant. When God seems to close His ear, we must not therefore close our mouths, but rather cry with more earnestness; for when our note grows shrill with eagerness and grief, He will not long deny us a hearing. What a dreadful case should we be in if the Lord should become for ever silent to our prayers!—We stretch out empty hands, for we are beggars; we lift them up, for we seek heavenly supplies; we lift them towards the mercy-seat of Jesus, for there our expectation dwells.—The best of the wicked are dangerous company in time, and would make terrible companions for eternity; we must avoid them in their pleasures, if we would not be confounded with them in their miseries.—It is a sure sign of baseness when the tongue and the heart do not ring to the same note. Deceitful men are more to be dreaded than wild beasts; it were better to be shut up in a pit with serpents than to be compelled to live with liars.—God’s curse is positive and negative; His sword has two edges, and cuts right and left.—They who pray well, will soon praise well; prayer and praise are the two lips of the soul.—Heart work is sure work; heart trust is never disappointed. Faith must come before help, but help will never be long behindhand.—When the heart is glowing, the lips should not be silent. When God blesses us, we should bless Him with all our heart.—C. A. B.]

Footnotes:

FN#10 - Alexander follows Hupfeld in rendering; lest Thou hold Thy peace from me, and I be made like those going down (into) the pit. The rendering in the text is better. It is that of De Wette, Ewald, Delitzsch, Moll, Perowne, et al.—C. A. B.]

FN#11 - So A. V, Hupfeld, Delitzsch, Perowne, et al. De Wette translates, because I cry, etc; Hitzig, since I cry, etc.; Moll and Alexander, in my crying, etc.—C. A. B.]

FN#12 - Delitzsch agree with Moll and translates, to Thy holy throne-hall; Hupfeld and Perowne, to the innermost place of Thy sanctuary; Ewald, to Thy holy chamber; Hitzig, to Thy holy unapproachable place—C. A. B.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Psalms 28:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/psalms-28.html. 1857-84.

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