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Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, [1834], at

Psalms Chapter 31


psa 31:0

This psalm is addressed to "the chief Musician," and purports to be a psalm of David. On the meaning of the phrase "To the chief Musician," see the notes at the title to Psa 4:1-8. There can be no doubt that the inscription which ascribes it to David is correct, and that he was the author. The occasion, however, on which it was composed is unknown, and cannot now be ascertained. Most of the Jewish and many Christian interpreters have supposed that it was written when David was in the wilderness of Maon, and when, having been betrayed (as to the place of his retreat) by the Ziphites, he was hotly pursued by Saul and his host, Sa1 23:19-26. There is, however, no particular reason for referring it to this period of his life, for there were many occasions to which it would be equally applicable.

Its general purpose is to inspire confidence in God in other hearts - from the experience of the psalmist - from that manifested favor by which he had been brought through his troubles. See Psa 31:23-24. The psalm refers to the dangers which surrounded its author at the time referred to; his fears and apprehensions in those dangers; his calm confidence in God amid his dangers; the deliverance from trouble which was vouchsafed to him; his joy and gratitude for deliverance; and the lessons which others might learn in their trials from the divine dealings toward him in his. That the psalmist was in trouble or danger when he penned this psalm there can be no reason to doubt; that he prayed earnestly at that time for deliverance is clear; but it is also plain that in the psalm he refers to former troubles, and to the deliverance which God had granted to him in those troubles, and that he seeks and derives consolation and assurance from the dealings of God with him then. In some parts of the psalm he refers to his present afflictions; in other parts to the trials of other days, and to his deliverances in those trials; in the entire psalm he inculcates the duty of confiding in God, from his own experience of His mercy, and from his own reliance upon Him.

The contents of the psalm are as follows:

I. Prayer to God for deliverance from his sufferings and his enemies, on the ground of his confidence in Him, and his previous experience of His mercy, Psa 31:1-8.

II. Description of his troubles and of the calamities under which he was oppressed; or an enumeration of his present distresses, Psa 31:9-13. He says that he is in trouble, and that his eye is consumed with grief, Psa 31:9; that his life is spent with grief, and his years with sighing, that his strength failed, and that his bones were consumed, Psa 31:10; that he is a reproach among his neighbors and an object of dread to his acquaintances, or that they fled from him, he was so abject, forsaken, and afflicted, Psa 31:11; that he was forsaken and forgotten like a dead man who had passed away from the recollection of mankind, Psa 31:12; that he was slandered, and that people conspired together to take away his life, Psa 31:13.

III. Calm confidence in God in these times of trouble; or a calm committing of all into His hands, under an assurance which he felt that all would be well, Psa 31:14-20. He says that he trusted in God, Psa 31:14; and that his times were in the hand of God, Psa 31:15; he prays that God would deliver him, Psa 31:15-18; he finds comfort and peace in the assurance of the divine goodness and mercy, Psa 31:19; and in the assurance that God would hide them that trusted in Him from the pride of man, and would keep them safely in His pavilion, Psa 31:20.

IV. Thanks for deliverance, Psa 31:21-22. He seems to have found the deliverance, even while he prayed, or to have had such an assurance of it that he could speak of it as if it were already his. He felt that he had been hasty in supposing that he would be cut off; and seems to have reproached himself for even a momentary doubt in regard to the goodness of God, Psa 31:22.

V. The lesson furnished to others by his experience, Psa 31:23-24. It is a lesson of encouragement to all in similar circumstances, prompting them to be of good courage; to be cheered by his example and experience; never to despond; never to cease to trust God. Because He had found God to be a refuge and strength, he calls upon all others to believe that they would also find him such if they likewise trusted in Him.

Psalms 31:1

psa 31:1

In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust - This is the ground of the petitions which follow; or the reason why the psalmist thus appeals to God. It was his firm confidence in Him; in His character; in His promises; in His ability to deliver Him in the time of danger. Compare the notes at Psa 7:1.

Let me never be ashamed - That is, let me never have occasion to be ashamed for having put this confidence in Thee. Let Thy dealings toward me be such as to show that my confidence was well founded. The word is not used here in the sense of being unwilling to confess his faith in God, or his love for Him, as it is often now (compare Rom 1:16; Rom 5:5; Ti2 1:12), but in the sense of being so "disappointed" as to make one ashamed that he had thus relied on that which was unworthy of confidence. See the notes at Job 6:20; compare also Isa 30:5; Jer 2:26; Jer 14:3-4. The psalmist prays that God would interpose in his behalf in answer to his prayers, and that he would show that He was worthy of the confidence which he had reposed in him, or that He was a God who might be trusted in the time of trial; in other words, that he might not be subjected to the reproach of the wicked for having in his troubles relied upon such a God.

Deliver me in thy righteousness - In the manifestation of Thy righteous character; in the exhibition of that character as righteous; as doing justice between man and man; as pronouncing a just sentence between me and my enemies.

Psalms 31:2

psa 31:2

Bow down thine ear to me - As He does who inclines His ear toward one whom He is willing to hear, or whom He is desirous of hearing. See the notes at Psa 17:6.

Deliver me speedily - Without delay. Or, hasten to deliver me. It is right to pray to be delivered from all evil; equally right to pray to be delivered immediately.

Be thou my strong rock - Margin: "to me for a rock of strength." See Psa 18:1-2, note; Psa 18:46, note.

For an house of defense to save me - A fortified house; a house made safe and strong. It is equivalent to praying that he might have a secure abode or dwelling-place.

Psalms 31:3

psa 31:3

For thou art my rock and my fortress - See the notes at Psa 18:2.

Therefore for thy name's sake - For the sake of thine own honor, or for the glory of thy name. See the notes at Psa 23:3. That is, since thou art my rock and my defense - since I put my trust in thee - show, by leading and guiding me, that my trust is well founded, or that this is Thy character, and that Thou wilt be true and faithful to those who commit their all to thee. See the notes at Psa 31:1.

Psalms 31:4

psa 31:4

Pull me out of the net - See the notes at Psa 9:15.

That they have laid privily for me - That my enemies have laid for me. The phrase "laid privily" refers to the custom of "hiding" or "concealing" a net or gin, so that the wild beast that was to be taken could not see it, or would fall into it unawares. Thus, his enemies designed to overcome him, by springing a net upon him at a moment when he was not aware of it, and at a place where he did not suspect it.

For thou art my strength - My stronghold. My hope of defense is in thee, and thee alone.

Psalms 31:5

psa 31:5

Into thine hand I commit my spirit - The Saviour used this expression when on the cross, and when about to die: Luk 23:46. But this does not prove that the psalm had originally a reference to him, or that he meant to intimate that the words originally were a prophecy. The language was appropriate for him, as it is for all others in the hour of death; and his use of the words furnished the highest illustration of their being appropriate in that hour. The act of the psalmist was an act of strong confidence in God in the midst of dangers and troubles; the act of the Saviour was of the same nature, commending his spirit to God in the solemn hour of death. The same act of faith is proper for all the people of God, alike in trouble and in death. Compare Act 7:59. The word "spirit" may mean either "life," considered as the animating principle, equivalent to the word "myself;" or it may mean more specifically the "soul," as distinguished from the body. The sense is not materially varied by either interpretation.

Thou hast redeemed me - This was the ground or reason why the "psalmist" commended himself to God; this reason was not urged, and could not have been by the Saviour, in his dying moments. He committed his departing spirit to God as his Father, and in virtue of the work which he had been appointed to do, and which he was now about finishing, as a Redeemer; we commit our souls to Him in virtue of having been redeemed. This is proper for us:

(a) because he has redeemed us;

(b) because we have been redeemed for him, and we may ask Him to take His own;

(c) because this is a ground of safety, for if we have been redeemed, we may be certain that God will keep us; and

(d) because this is the only ground of our security in reference to the future world.

What "David" may have understood by this word it may not be easy to determine with certainty; but there is no reason to doubt that he may have used it as expressive of the idea that he had been recovered from the ruin of the fall, and from the dominion of sin, and had been made a child of God. Nor do we need to doubt that he had such views of the way of salvation that he would feel that he was redeemed only by an atonement, or by the shedding of blood for his sins. To all who are Christians it is enough to authorize them to use this language in the midst of troubles and dangers, and in the hour of death, that they have been redeemed by the blood of the Saviour; to none of us is there any other safe ground of trust and confidence in the hour of death than the fact that Christ has died for sin, and that we have evidence that we are interested in his blood.

O Lord God of truth - True to thy promises and to thy covenant-engagements. As thou hast promised life and salvation to those who are redeemed, they may safely confide in thee. See the notes at Co2 1:20.

Psalms 31:6

psa 31:6

I have hated them that regard lying vanities - This is evidently stated as a reason for the prayer offered in the previous verses. It is a reference by the psalmist to his own past life; to his general aim and conduct. The meaning is, that he had been a friend of God; that he had separated himself from wicked men; and he now prays in return for His protection and interposition. The sentiment is similar to that which occurs in Psa 26:3-5. See the notes at that passage. The word rendered "regard" here means to observe, to keep, to attend upon; and the reference is to those who show honor to what is here called "lying vanities;" that is, those who attend upon them, or who show them favor. The "lying vanities" are probably "idols," and the allusion is to those who attended on the worship of idols as distinguished from those who worshipped the true God. Idols are often represented as false - as vain, or vanity, - as a lie - in contradistinction from that which is true and real. See the notes at Co1 8:4. There is special emphasis in the language used here as denoting the "utter" worthlessness and vanity of idols. The language means "vanities of emptiness;" denoting that they were "utterly" vain and worthless.

But I trust in the Lord - In Yahweh, the true God, as distinguished from idols.

Psalms 31:7

psa 31:7

I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy - I will triumph and joy in thy mercy; that is, in the mercy which he had already experienced, and in that which he still hoped to enjoy. He had had abundant proofs of that mercy; he hoped for still further proofs of it; and he says that he would find his joy in that, and not in what idols could give.

For thou hast considered my trouble - In times past and now. He felt assured that his prayer would be regarded, and that God would relieve and deliver him.

Thou hast known my soul in adversities - In the troubles that have come upon me. That is, God had seen and known all the feelings of his heart in the time of adversity; his sorrow and anxiety; his hope and trust; his uncomplaining spirit; his feeling of entire dependence on God, and his belief that He would interpose to save him. God had not turned away from him, but had shown that he regarded with interest all his feelings, his desires, his hopes. It is much, in the time of trouble, to know that all our feelings are understood by God, that He sees all our sorrows, and that He will not be regardless of them. There are no states of mind more interesting than those which occur in adversities; there is no one who can fully understand the soul in adversities but God; there is no one but God who can entirely meet the needs of the soul in such seasons.

Psalms 31:8

psa 31:8

And hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy - Hast not delivered me into his hand, or into his power. See the margin Sa1 17:46; Sa1 24:18; Sa1 26:8.

Thou hast set my feet in a large room - In a large place. Thou hast made me free, or set me at liberty. See Psa 4:1, note; Psa 18:19, note; Psa 18:36, note.

Psalms 31:9

psa 31:9

Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am in trouble - The nature and sources of his trouble are specified in the verses following. He seems to have regarded all his trouble as the result of sin, either the sin of his heart, of which he alone was conscious, or of some open act of sin, that had been the means of bringing this affliction upon him, Psa 31:10. As a consequence of this, he says that he was subjected to the reproach of his enemies, and shunned by his neighbors and his acquaintances; that he was forgotten by them like a dead man out of mind; that he was exposed to the slander of others, and that they conspired against his life, Psa 31:11-13. In view of all this he calls earnestly upon God to save him in his troubles, and to be his helper and friend.

Mine eye is consumed with grief - That is, with weeping. See the notes at Psa 6:7.

Yea, my soul - That is, my spirit, my life, my mind. My powers are weakened and exhausted by excessive grief.

And my belly - My bowels: regarded as the seat of the affections. See the notes at Isa 16:11; compare Psa 22:14. The effect of his grief was to exhaust his strength, and to make his heart sink within him.

Psalms 31:10

psa 31:10

For my life is spent with grief - The word here rendered "spent" does not mean merely "passed," as it is commonly now used, as when we say we "spent" our time at such a place, or in such a manner, but in the more proper meaning of the word, as denoting "consumed, wasted away," or "destroyed." See the word כלה kâlâh as used in Jer 16:4; Lam 2:11; Psa 84:2 (Heb. 3); Psa 143:7; Psa 69:3 Heb. 4; Job 11:20.

And my years with sighing - That is, my years are wasted or consumed with sighing. Instead of being devoted to active toil and to useful effort, they are exhausted or wasted away with a grief which wholly occupies and preys upon me.

My strength faileth because of mine iniquity - Because of the trouble that has come upon me for my sin. He regarded all this trouble - from whatever quarter it came, whether directly from the hand of God, or from man - as the fruit of "sin." Whether he refers to any particular sin as the cause of this trouble, or to the sin of his nature as the source of all evil, it is impossible now to determine. Since, however, no particular sin is specified, it seems most probable that the reference is to the sin of his heart - to his corrupt nature. It is common, and it is not improper, when we are afflicted, to regard all our trials as fruits of sin; as coming upon us as the result of the fall, and as an evidence that we are depraved. It is certain that there is no suffering in heaven, and that there never would be any in a perfectly holy world. It is equally certain that all the woes of earth are the consequence of man's apostasy; and it is proper, therefore, when we are afflicted, even though we cannot trace the affliction to any "particular" offence, to trace it all to the existence of evil, and to regard it as among the proofs of the divine displeasure against sin.

And my bones are consumed - That is, are decayed, worn out, or wasted away. Even the solid framework of my body gives way under excessive grief, and all my strength is gone. See Psa 32:3; Psa 102:3.

Psalms 31:11

psa 31:11

I was a reproach among all mine enemies - That is, he was subjected to their reproaches, or was calumniated and reviled by them. See the notes at Psa 22:6.

But especially among my neighbors - I was reproached by none more than by my neighbors. They showed special distrust of me, and manifested special unkindness, even more than my enemies did. They turned away from me. They abandoned me. They would not associate with me. They regarded me as a disgrace to them, and forsook me. Compare Job 19:13-15, and the notes at that passage.

And a fear to mine acquaintance - An object of dread or terror, so that they fled from me.

They that did see me without - In the streets, or in public - out of my own house. Not only those in my own dwelling - the members of my family - regarded me in this manner, but passers in the streets - those whom I accidentally met - turned from me and fled in disgust and horror. It is not possible now to determine at what time in the life of the psalmist this occurred, or to ascertain the exact circumstances. There were, doubtless, times when with the saddest feelings he could say that all this was true of him. His troubles in the time of his persecutions by Saul, and still more probably his trials in the time when Absalom rebelled against him, and when he was driven away from his throne and his capital, would furnish an occasion when this would be true. If the latter was the occasion, then we can see how naturally he would connect all this with his "iniquity," and regard it as the consequence of his sin in the matter of Uriah - a sin which would probably be always in his recollection, and which he would ever onward regard as lying at the foundation of all his afflictions.

Psalms 31:12

psa 31:12

I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind - Like the man who is dead, and who has passed away from the recollection of mankind. Compare Psa 88:4-5. The Hebrew is, "as a dead man from the heart;" that is, from the memory or recollection of men, so as to be no more remembered; no more regarded. The expression is nearly the same in meaning as our common English proverb: "out of sight, out of mind." The allusion is to the fact that a man who is dead is soon forgotten. He is missed at first by a few friends, while the rest of the world knows little about him, or cares little for him. He is no longer seen where he has been accustomed to be seen, at the place of business, in the social circle, in the scenes of amusement, in the streets, or in public assemblies. For a short period a vacancy is created which attracts attention and causes regret. But the world moves on. Another comes to fill his place, and soon his absence ceases to be a subject of remark, or a cause of regret; the world says little about him, and soon he altogether ceases to be remembered. At no distant time the rude board with his name written on it, or the marble sculptured with all the skill of art, falls down. The passing traveler casts an eye upon the "name" of him who slept his last sleep there, and neither knows nor cares who he was.

"The gay will laugh

When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care

Plod on, and each one as before will chase

His favorite phantom"

- Bryant

"On my grassy grave

The men of future times will careless tread,

And read my name upon the sculptured stone;

Nor will the sound, familiar to their ears,

Recall my vanish'd memory."

- Henry Kirke White

It is sad to reflect that this is to be our lot; but so it is. It would cast a most gloomy shade over life if this was to be the end of man, and if he passed from existence as soon as he passes from the recollection of the living. The idea of the psalmist here is, that, in the circumstances to which he referred, he had been forgotten by mankind, and he uses the most striking image which could be employed to convey that idea.

I am like a broken vessel - Margin, as in Hebrew, "like a vessel that perisheth." That is, like a vessel made of clay - a piece of pottery - that is easily broken and rendered worthless. This is a favorite comparison with Jeremiah. See Jer 22:28; Jer 48:38; Lam 4:2. Compare also Psa 2:9; Isa 30:14; Hos 8:8.

Psalms 31:13

psa 31:13

For I have heard the slander of many - The reproach; the false accusations; the unjust aspersions. We are here more definitely informed as to another of the sources of the trouble that came upon him. It was "slander." He had already referred to "two" sources of trouble; one Psa 31:11 that he was "reproached" by his friends and neighbors, and that his society was shunned by them; a second, that he was "forgotten" by those who ought to have remembered him, and that they treated him as though he were dead, Psa 31:12. The third is referred to now; to wit, that he was the subject of "slander," or of false reports. What was the "nature" of those false charges we are not informed. But it is not needful that we should know precisely what they were. It is enough, in order to see the depth and aggravation of his trouble, to know that he "was" exposed to this; and that, to all that he had to endure from other sources, there was this added - that his name was reproached and cast out as evil - that he was subjected to "slander,"

"Whose edge is sharper than the sword; whose tongue

Outvenoms all the worms of Nile; whose breath

Rides on the posting winds; and doth belie

All corners of the world."

Cymbeline, Act iii., Sc. iv.

Fear was on every side - From the causes already specified. He knew not whom to trust. He seemed to have no friend. He was afraid, therefore, of every one that he met.

While they took counsel together against me - See the notes at Psa 2:2. They entered into a conspiracy or combination.

They devised to take away my life - They devised measures, or they laid a plot, thus to kill me. These are the grounds of the earnest prayer which he urges in Psa 31:9 : "Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am in trouble."

Psalms 31:14

psa 31:14

But I trust in thee, O Lord - In these times of trial - when Psa 31:9 his eye was consumed with grief; when Psa 31:10 his years were spent with sighing, his strength failed, and his bones were consumed; when Psa 31:11 he was a reproach among his neighbors, and dreaded by his acquaintances; when Psa 31:12 he was forgotten as a dead man; and when Psa 31:13 he was surrounded with causes of alarm. Then he trusted in God. His confidence did not fail. He believed that God was his Father and Friend; that He was on the throne; that He could protect and defend him; and he left himself and his cause with Him. In such circumstances as these there is no other sure refuge but God; at such times the strength of faith is shown, and then is seen pre-eminently the power and value of religion.

I said, Thou art my God - Thou art all that is implied in the name "God;" and thou art mine. He felt assured that God would not forsake him, though men did; that he might confide in Him, though his earthly friends all turned away. There is always one (God) who will not leave or forsake us; and the friendship and favor of that One is of more value to us than that of all other beings in the universe combined.

Psalms 31:15

psa 31:15

My times are in thy hand - That is, I said this in my trouble; when my friends forsook me, and when my enemies came around me and threatened my life. The meaning is, that all that pertained to him was under the control and at the disposal of God. He would "live" as long as God should please. It was His to give life; His to preserve it; His to take it away. All in relation to life - its origin - its continuance - its changes - its seasons - childhood, youth, middle age, old age - all was in the hand of God. No one, therefore, could take his life before the time that had been appointed by God, and he might calmly commit the whole to him. This we may feel in all seasons of life and in all times of danger; of sickness; of feebleness. We shall live as long as God has appointed; we shall pass through such changes as he directs; we shall die when and where and how he chooses. In the faithful discharge of our duty, therefore, we may commit all these things to him, and leave all at his disposal.

Deliver me from the hand of mine enemies - That is, since all these things are under thy control; since thou hast power over my life and over all that pertains to me, I pray that thy power may be exerted in my behalf, and that my life may be rescued from danger. This was his prayer in the midst of his troubles, and this prayer was heard.

Psalms 31:16

psa 31:16

Make thy face to shine upon thy servant - That is, show me thy favor, or be kind and merciful to me. See the notes at Psa 4:6.

Save me for thy mercies' sake - On account of thy mercy; or that thy mercy may be manifested. This is always a just ground of appeal to God by a sinner or a sufferer, that God would make our sins and trials an "occasion" for displaying his own character. There are, indeed, other grounds of appeal; but there is no one that is more pure or exalted than this.

Psalms 31:17

psa 31:17

Let me not be ashamed, O Lord, for I have called upon thee - That is, I have reposed entire confidence in thee, and in thy promises, in the time of trial; let now the result be such as to show that I had reason thus to trust in thee; that thy character is such that the persecuted and the afflicted may always find thee to be a safe and secure refuge. In other words, Let me not be disappointed, and thus be made "ashamed" before men, as if I had put my trust where no relief was to be found, or where there was nothing to authorize an act of unreserved confidence. See the notes at Psa 25:2-3.

Let the wicked be ashamed - Let them be disappointed in that on which they had put their trust; let it be seen that they, in their wicked plans, had no safe ground of confidence. They rely on their strength; their skill; their courage; their resources; and not on God. Let it now be seen that these things constitute no safe ground of trust, and let not others be encouraged to follow their example by any success that shall attend them in their designs.

And let them be silent in the grave - Margin, "let them be cut off for the grave." Hebrew: "for Sheol." The more correct translation is that which is in the text, "Let them be silent." That is, let them go down to the grave - to "Sheol" - to the "underworld" - to the "land of silence." On the meaning of the word used here - "Sheol," the grave - see the notes at Isa 14:9; compare the notes at Job 10:21-22; and the notes at Psa 16:10. This is represented as a land of "silence." This idea is derived from "the grave," where the dead repose in silence; and the meaning here is, let them be cut off and consigned to that land of silence. It is a prayer that the wicked may not triumph.

Psalms 31:18

psa 31:18

Let the lying lips be put to silence - See the notes at Psa 12:2-3. The lips which speak lies. The reference here is especially to those who had spoken in this manner against the psalmist himself, though he makes the language general, or prays in general that God would silence all liars: a prayer certainly in which all persons may properly join.

Which speak grievous things - Margin, "a hard thing." The Hebrew word - עתק ‛âthâq - means "bold, impudent, wicked." Gesenius, Lexicon. The phrase here means, therefore, to speak wickedly, or to speak in a bold, reckless, impudent manner; that is, without regard to the truth of what is said.

Proudly and contemptuously - Hebrew, in pride and contempt: that is, in a manner which shows that they are proud of themselves and despise others. Slander always perhaps implies this. People are secretly proud of themselves; or they "desire" to cherish an exalted opinion of themselves, and to have others entertain the same opinion of them; and hence, if they cannot exalt themselves by their own merit, as they wish, they endeavor to humble others below their real merit, and to a level lower than themselves, by detraction.

Psalms 31:19

psa 31:19

Oh how great is thy goodness - That is, in view of the divine protection and favor in such cases, or when thus assailed. The psalmist seems to have felt that it was an inexpressible privilege thus to be permitted to appeal to God with the assurance of the divine protection. In few circumstances do people feel more grateful for the opportunity of appealing to God than when they are reviled and calumniated. As there is nothing which we feel more keenly than calumny and reproach, so there can be no circumstances when we more appreciate the privilege of having such a Refuge and Friend as God.

Which thou hast laid up - Which thou hast "treasured" up, for so the Hebrew word means. That is, goodness and mercy had been, as it were, "treasured up" for such an emergency - as a man treasures up food in autumn for the wants of winter, or wealth for the wants of old age. The goodness of God is thus a treasure garnered up for the needs of His people - a treasure always accessible; a treasure that can never be exhausted.

For them that fear thee - Or "reverence" thee - fear or reverence being often used to denote friendship with God, or religion. See the notes at Psa 5:7.

Which thou hast wrought for them - Which thou hast "made" for them (Hebrew); or, which thou hast secured as if by labor; that is, by plan and arrangement. It was not by chance that that goodness had been provided; God had done it in a manner resembling the act of a man who lays up treasure for his future use by plan and by toil. The idea is, that all this was the "work" of a benevolent God; a God who had carefully anticipated the wants of his people.

For them that trust in thee - who rely upon Thee in trouble, in danger, and in want; who feel that their only reliance is upon Thee, and who do actually trust in Thee.

Before the sons of men - That is, Thou hast performed this in the presence of the sons of men, or in the presence of mankind. God had not only laid it up in secret, making provision for the wants of His people, but he had worked out this deliverance before people, or had shown His goodness to them openly. The acts of benevolence or goodness in the case were - "first," that he had "treasured up" the resources of His goodness by previous arrangement, or by anticipation, for them; and "second," that he had "wrought out" deliverance, or had "manifested" his goodness by interposing to save, and by doing it openly that it might be seen by mankind.

Psalms 31:20

psa 31:20

Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence - See the notes at Psa 27:5. The phrase "secret of thy presence" means thy "secret presence." The Hebrew is: "the secret of thy face;" and the idea is, that He would hide them, or withdraw them from public view, or from the view of their enemies, into the very place where He Himself dwelt, so that they would be before Him and near Him; so that His eye would be upon them, and that they would be certain of His protection. The language here is the same as in Psa 27:5, except that the word "face" or "presence" is used here instead of the word "tabernacle." The idea is the same.

From the pride of man - The Hebrew word here rendered "pride" - רכס rôkes - means properly "league" or "conspiracy;" then, "snares" or "plots." It occurs nowhere else in the Scriptures, though the corresponding verb - רכס râkas - occurs twice, meaning to "bind on" or "to," Exo 28:28; Exo 39:21. The word here means "league" or "conspiracy," and the idea is, that when the wicked form a conspiracy, or enter into a league against the righteous, God will take them, as it were, into His own immediate presence, and will protect them.

Thou shalt keep them secretly - Thou wilt "hide" them as with Thyself.

In a pavilion - In Thy tent, or dwelling-place. See the notes at Psa 27:5.

From the strife of tongues - Slander; reproach; calumny. This does not mean the strife of tongues among themselves, or their contentions with each other, but the united clamors of the whole against Himself. God would guard the righteous from their reproaches, or their efforts to ruin them by slander. Compare Psa 37:5-6.

Psalms 31:21

psa 31:21

Blessed be the Lord - An expression of thanksgiving for the evidence that God had heard him in his troubles, and had answered him.

For he hath showed me his marvelous kindness - literally, "He has made his mercy wonderful;" that is, he has showed me such mercy as to be an object of admiration and astonishment. It was not ordinary kindness, such as is shown to people every day; it was so uncommon - so far beyond all expectation - so separate from second causes and the agency of man - so marked in its character - as to fill the mind with wonder.

In a strong city - Margin, "fenced city." This may mean either that he had thus placed him literally in a strongly fortified city where he was safe from the fear of his enemies; or, that he had interposed in his behalf, and had given him protection as if he had brought him into such a strongly fortified place. Jarchi supposes that the city of "Keilah" Sa1 23:7 is here intended. But this is improbable. All that the passage necessarily implies is, that God had given him protection as if he had been placed in a strongly fortified town where he would be safe from danger.

Psalms 31:22

psa 31:22

For I said in my haste - In my fear; my apprehension. The word rendered "haste" means properly that terror or alarm which causes one to flee, or to endeavor to escape. It is not "haste" in the sense of an opinion formed too quickly, or formed rashly; it is "haste" in the sense of terror leading to sudden flight, or an effort to escape. See an illustration of this idea in the case of David himself, in Sa1 23:26.

I am cut off - That is, I shall certainly be cut off or destroyed.

From before thine eyes - Either, in thy very presence; or, so that I shall not be admitted into thy presence. I shall be cut down, and suffered no more to come before thee to worship thee. Compare the notes at Psa 6:5.

Nevertheless thou heardest ... - Contrary to my apprehensions, I was heard and delivered. God's mercy went beyond the psalmist's faith - as it often does to His people now, far beyond what they hope for; far beyond what they even pray for; far beyond what they believe to be possible; so far beyond all this, as to make the result, as in the case of David Psa 31:21, a matter of wonder and astonishment.

Psalms 31:23

psa 31:23

O love the Lord, all ye his saints - This is the "application" of all the truths suggested in the psalm. The experience of the psalmist had shown the wisdom of trusting in God in times of danger and trouble, and had laid the foundation for a proper exhortation to others to imitate his example; an argument why all the people of God should love him, and should be of good courage. The reason here assigned for their loving the Lord is, that he preserves those who are faithful to him, and "rewards the proud doer." This is a reason for loving God, or for putting our trust in him, though the psalmist does not say that this is the only reason for doing it. The meaning here is, that the dealings of God toward the psalmist had established this truth in regard to the character of God, that he does preserve the faithful, and does punish the proud, and that this fact constitutes a reason why all his people should confide in him.

For the Lord preserveth the faithful - The faithful; those who put their trust in him; those who do not give up in despondency and despair in time of danger and trouble; those who do not forsake him even though for a time he seems to forsake them. What God looks for mainly in his people is confidence; faithfulness; trust; fidelity.

And plentifully rewardeth - "Abundantly" rewards. Literally, "in plenty." That is, his punishment does not fall short of the desert of the wicked man. It is ample or full. He does full justice.

The proud doer - "The man working pride." The reference is to the man who is confident in himself; who seeks to aggrandize himself, and who in doing this is regardless of the rights of others.

Psalms 31:24

psa 31:24

Be of good courage - See a similar exhortation at the close of a psalm, in Psa 27:14. Compare the notes at that verse. As the result of all his own experience of the goodness of God, and of His gracious interposition in the time of danger, the psalmist exhorts others to be encouraged, and to feel assured that God would not leave or forsake them.

And he shall strengthen your heart - He will animate you; he will enable you to meet trial and opposition; he will keep you from becoming faint and disheartened.

All ye that hope in the Lord - All that put their trust in him, or all whose expectation is from him. It is a characteristic of true piety that all hope centers in God, or that the soul feels that there is no other ground of hope.

(a) The truly pious man despairs of success in anything else, or from any other quarter, for he feels that God alone can give success.

(b) He does hope in God - in reference to all that is needful for himself as an individual; all that will be for the good of his family; all that will tend to bless the world; all that he desires in heaven. Hope in God cheers him, sustains him, comforts him; makes life happy and prosperous; and makes death calm, serene, triumphant.

Next: Psalms Chapter 32