Treasury of David
TITLE. To the Chief Musician, A Psalm of David. So far the title corresponds with Psalm 40, of which this is a copy with variations. David appears to have written the full length Psalm, and also to have made this excerpt from it, and altered it to suit the occasion. It is a fit pendant to Psalm 69, and a suitable preface to Psalm 71.
To bring to remembrance. This is the poor man's memorial. David personally pleads with God that he may not be forgotten, but David's Lord may be heard here also. Even if the Lord seems to forget us, we must not forget him. This memorial Psalm acts as a connecting link between the two Psalms of supplicatory expostulation, and makes up with them a precious triad of song.
(The Reader is referred for full Exposition and Notes to Psalm 40, verses 13-17)
Verse 1. Hasten, O God, to save me; O LORD, come quickly to help me. This is the second Psalm which is a repetition of another, the former being Psalm 53, which was a rehearsal of Psalm 14.
The present Psalm differs from the Fortieth Psalm at the outset, for that begins with, "Be pleased," and this, in our version, more urgently with, "Make haste; or, as in the Hebrew, with an abrupt and broken cry, O God, to deliver me; O Lord, to help me hasten.
It is not forbidden us, in hours of dire distress, to ask for speed on God's part in his coming to rescue us. The only other difference between this and verse 13 of Psalm 40, is the putting of Elohim in the beginning of the verse for Jehovah, but why this is done we know not; perhaps, the guesses of the critics are correct, but perhaps they are not.
As we have the words of this Psalm twice in the letter, let them be doubly with us in spirit. It is most fit that we should day by day cry to God for deliverance and help; our frailty and our many dangers render this a perpetual necessity.
Verse 2. Here the words, "together," and, "to destroy it, "which occur in Psalm 40, are omitted—a man in haste uses no more words than are actually necessary. His enemies desired to put his faith to shame, and he eagerly entreats that they may be disappointed, and themselves covered with confusion. It shall certainly be so; if not sooner—yet at that dread day when the wicked shall awake to shame and everlasting contempt.
May those who seek my life be put to shame and confusion; may all who desire my ruin be turned back in disgrace. Turned back and driven back are merely the variations of the translators. When men labor to turn others back from the right road, it is God's retaliation to drive them back from the point they are aiming at.
Verse 3. May those who say to me, "Aha! Aha!" turn back because of their shame. This is a milder term than that used in Psalm 40, where he cries, "let them be desolate." Had growing years matured and mellowed the psalmist's spirit? To be "turned back," however, may come to the same thing as to be "desolate;" disappointed malice is the nearest akin to desolation that can well be conceived.
For a reward of their shame that say, Aha! Aha! They thought to shame the godly, but it was their shame, and shall be their shame forever. How fond men are of taunts, and if they are meaningless ahas, more like animal cries than human words, it matters nothing, so long as they are a vent for scorn and sting the victim. Rest assured, the enemies of Christ and his people shall have wages for their work; they shall be paid in their own coin; they loved scoffing, and they shall be filled with it—yes, they shall become a proverb and a byword forever.
Verse 4. Anger against enemies must not make us forget our friends, for it is better to preserve a single citizen of Zion, than to kill a thousand enemies.
Let all those that seek you rejoice and be glad in you. All true worshipers, though as yet in the humble ranks of seekers, shall have cause for joy. Even though the seeking commence in darkness, it shall bring light with it.
And let such as love your salvation say continually, Let God be magnified. Those who have tasted divine grace, and are, therefore, wedded to it, are a somewhat more advanced race, and these shall not only feel joy, but shall with holy constancy and perseverance tell abroad their joy, and call upon men to glorify God. The doxology, "Let the Lord's name be magnified," is infinitely more manly and ennobling than the dog's bark of "Aha, aha."
Verse 5. Yet I am poor and needy. Just the same plea as in the preceding Psalm, Psalm 69:29: it seems to be a favorite argument with tried saints; evidently our poverty is our wealth, even as our weakness is our strength. May we learn well this riddle.
Make haste unto me, O God. This is written instead of "yet the Lord thinks upon me," in Psalm 40: and there is a reason for the change, since the key note of the Psalm frequently dictates its close. Psalm 40 sings of God's thoughts, and, therefore, ends therewith; but the peculiar note of Psalm 70 is "Make haste," and, therefore, so it concludes.
You are my help and my deliverer. My help in trouble, my deliverer out of it.
O Lord, make no tarrying. Here is the name of "Jehovah" instead of "my God." We are warranted in using all the various names of God, for each has its own beauty and majesty, and we must reverence each by its holy use as well as by abstaining from taking it in vain.
I have presumed to close this recapitulatory exposition with an original hymn, suggested by the watchword of this Psalm, "MAKE HASTE."
Make haste, O God, my soul to bless!
My help and my deliverer you;
Make haste, for I am in deep distress,
My case is urgent; help me now.
Make haste, O God! make haste to save!
For time is short, and death is nigh;
Make haste before yet I am in my grave,
And with the lost forever lie.
Make haste, for I am poor and low;
And Satan mocks my prayers and tears;
O God, in mercy be not slow,
But snatch me from my horrid fears.
Make haste, O God, and hear my cries;
Then with the souls who seek your face,
And those who your salvation prize,
I will magnify your matchless grace!