Here David avows his confidence in God. “_Thou, O Lord, art a shield for me_.” The word in the original signifies more than a shield; it means a buckler round about, a protection which shall surround a man entirely, a shield above, beneath, around, without and within. Oh! what a shield is God for his people! He wards off the fiery darts of Satan from beneath, and the storms of trials from above, while, at the same instant, he speaks peace to the tempest within the breast. Thou art “_my glory_.” David knew that though he was driven from his capital in contempt and scorn, he should yet return in triumph, and by faith he looks upon God as honouring and glorifying him. O for grace to see our future glory amid present shame! Indeed, there is a present glory in our afflictions, if we could but discern it; for it is no mean thing to have fellowship with Christ in his sufferings. David was honoured when he made the ascent of Olivet, weeping, with his head covered; for he was in all this made like unto his Lord. May we learn, in this respect, to glory in tribulations also! “_And the lifter up of mine head_”–thou shalt yet exalt me. Though I hang my head in sorrow, I shall very soon lift it up in joy and thanks-giving. What a divine trio of mercies is contained in this verse!–defence for the defenceless, glory for the desipised, and joy for the comfortless. Verily we may well say, “There is none like the God of Jeshurun.”
“I cried unto the Lord with my voice.” Why doth he say, “with my voice?” Surely, silent prayers are heard. Yes, but good men often find that, even in secret, they pray better aloud than they do when they utter no vocal sound. Perhaps, moreover, David would think thus:–“My cruel enemies clamour against me; _they_ lift up their voices, and, behold, _I_ lift up mine, and my cry outsoars them all. They clamour, but the cry of my voice in great distress pierces the very skies, and is louder and stronger than all their tumult; for there is one in the sanctuary who hearkens to me from the seventh heaven, and he hath ‘_heard me out of his holy hill_.'” Answers to prayers are sweet cordials for the soul. We need not fear a frowning world while we rejoice in a prayer-hearing God.
Here stands another _Selah_. Rest awhile, O tried believer, and change the strain to a softer air.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.
Verse 3.–“Lifter up of my head.” God will have the body partake with the soul–as in matters of grief, so in matters of joy; the lanthorn shines in the light of the candle within.^–Richard Sibbs, 1639.
There is a lifting up of the head by elevation to office, as with Pharaoh’s butler; this we trace to the divine appointment. There is a lifting up in honour after shame, in health after sickness, in gladness after sorrow, in restoration after a fall, in victory after a temporary defeat; in all these respects the Lord is the lifter up of our head.–C. H. S.
Verse 4.–When prayer leads the van, in due time deliverance brings up the rear.–^Thomas Watson.
Verse 4.–“_He heard me_.” I have often heard persons say in prayer, “Thou art a prayer-hearing and a prayer-answering God,” but the expression contains a superfluity, since for God to hear is, according to Scripture, the same thing as to answer.–^C. H. S.
[As a curious instance of Luther’s dogmatical interpretations, we give very considerable extracts from his rendering of this Psalm without in any degree endorsing them.
Verse 3.–“_For thou, O Lord, art my helper, my glory, and the lifter up of my head_.” David here contrasts three things with three; helper, with many troubling; glory, with many rising up; and the lifter up of the head, with the blaspheming and insulting. Therefore, the person here represented is indeed alone in the estimation of man, and even according to his own feelings also; but in the sight of God, and in a spiritual view, he is by no means alone; but protected with the greatest abundance of help; as Christ saith (#Joh 16:32|), “Behold, the hour cometh when ye shall leave me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.” … The words contained in this verse are not the words of nature, but of grace; not of free-will, but of the spirit of strong faith; which, even though seeing God, as in the darkness of the storm of death and hell, a deserting God, acknowledges him a sustaining God; when seeing him as a persecuting God, acknowledges him a helping God; when seeing him as a condemner, acknowledges him a Saviour. Thus this faith does not judge of things according as they seem to be, or are felt, like a horse or mule which have no understanding; but it understands things which are not seen, for “hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?” #Ro 8:24|.–^Martin Luther.
Verse 4.–“_I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill_.” In the Hebrew, the verb is in the future, and is, as Hieronymus translates it, “I will cry,” and, “he shall hear;” and this pleases me better than the perfect tense; for they are the words of one triumphing in, and praising and glorifying God, and giving thanks unto him who sustained, preserved, and lifted him up, according as he had hoped in the preceding verse. For it is usual with those that triumph and rejoice, to speak of those things which they have done and suffered, and to sing a song of praise unto their helper and deliverer; as in #Ps 66:16|, “Come, then, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul. I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue.” And also #Ps 81:1|, “sing aloud unto God our strength.” And so again, #Ex 15:1|, “Let us sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously.” And so here, being filled with an overflowing sense of gratitude and joy, he sings of his being dead, of his having slept and rose up again, of his enemies being smitten, and of the teeth of the ungodly being broken. This it is which causes the change; for he who hitherto had been addressing God in the second person, changes on a sudden his address to others concerning God, in the third person, saying, “and he heard me,” not “and thou heardest me;” and also, “I cried unto the Lord,” not “I cried unto thee,” for he wants to make all know what benefits God has heaped upon him; which is peculiar to a grateful mind.–^Martin Luther.
HINTS TO PREACHERS.
Verse 3.–The threefold blessing which God affords to his suffering ones–Defence, Honour, Joy. Show how all these may be enjoyed by faith, even in our worst estate.
Verse 4.–(1) In dangers we should pray. (2) God will graciously hear. (3) We should record his answers of grace. (4) We may strengthen ourselves for the future by remembering the deliverances of the past.