May 3.—Morning. [Or September 2.]
“Keep me as the apple of the eye.”
A Prayer of David.
SO much in this Psalm is illustrated by David’s condition in the forests and mountains of Ziph, that it is most appropriate to read it at this time.
1 Hear the right, O Lord (Do not suffer might to crush right. Judge my cause and suffer not King Saul to do me wrong), attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips.
2 Let my sentence come forth from thy presence; let thine eyes behold the things that are equal. (David felt his cause to be so just that he was confident that equity would give a verdict in his favour. We cannot take an unrighteous cause before the Lord, that would be blasphemy; but we may confidently leave a just cause in his hands.)
3 Thou hast proved mine heart; thou hast visited me in the night; (Like Peter, David uses the argument, “Thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee.” It is a most assuring thing to be able to appeal at once to the Lord, and call upon our judge to be a witness for our defence. “Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God.” “Thou hast visited me in the night.” As if he had said, “Lord, thou hast entered my house at all hours; and thou hast seen me when no one else was nigh; thou hast come upon me unawares and marked my unrestrained actions, and thou knowest whether or no I am guilty of the crimes laid at my door.” Happy man, who can thus remember the omniscient eye, and the omnipresent visitor, and find comfort in the remembrance. We too have had our midnight visits from our Lord, and truly they are sweet; so sweet that the recollection of them sets us longing for more of such condescending communings. Lord, if indeed we had been hypocrites, should we have had such fellowship, or have felt such hungerings after a renewal of it?); thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.
4 Concerning the works of men, by the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer. (Divine guidance had kept him in a safe way, as it will us also, if we seek it.)
5 Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not.
6 I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God: incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech.
7 Shew thy marvellous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them.
8, 9 Keep me as the apple of the eye (No part of the body is more precious, more tender, and more carefully guarded than the eye; and of the eye no portion is more peculiarly protected than the central apple, the pupil, or, as the Hebrew calls it, “the daughter of the eye.” The All-wise Creator has placed the eye in a well-protected position; it stands surrounded by projecting bones, like Jerusalem encircled by mountains. Moreover, its great Author has surrounded it with many tunics of inward covering, besides the hedge of the eyebrows, the curtain of the eyelids, and the fence of the eyelashes; and, in addition to this, he has given to every man so high a value for his eyes, and so quick an apprehension of danger that no member of the body is more faithfully cared for than the organ of sight. Thus, Lord, keep thou me, for I trust I am one with Jesus, and so a member of his mystical body), hide me under the shadow of thy wings, From the wicked that oppress me, from my deadly enemies, who compass me about.
10 They are enclosed in their own fat: with their mouth they speak proudly.
11 They have now compassed us in our steps: they have set their eyes bowing down to the earth;
12 Like as a lion that is greedy of his prey, and as it were a young lion lurking in secret places. (A vivid picture of Saul’s pursuit of him. He and his men were surrounded, and their enemies followed after them like wild beasts eager in the hunt, tracking their every step.)
13 Arise, O Lord, disappoint him, cast him down: deliver my soul from the wicked, which is thy sword:
14 From men which are thy hand, O Lord, from men of the world, which have their portion in this life, and whose belly thou fillest with thy hid treasure: they are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes.
15 As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.
May 3.—Evening. [Or September 3.]
“God judgeth the righteous.”
PROBABLY it was in these dark days, when David was still under the fierce displeasure of Saul, that he penned—
This Psalm bears the title of
Shiggaion of David, which he sang unto the Lord, concerning the words of Cush the Benjamite.
It appears probable that Cush had accused David of treasonable conspiracy against Saul’s authority, or of some other crime. This the King would be ready enough to credit, both from his jealousy of David, and from the relationship which existed between himself, the son of Kish, and this Cush or Kish the Benjamite.
1 O Lord my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me:
2 Lest he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces, while there is none to deliver.
3 O Lord my God, if I have done this; if there be iniquity in my hands;
4 If I have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with me; (yea, I have delivered him that without cause is mine enemy:)
5 Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it; yea, let him tread down my life upon the earth, and lay mine honour in the dust. Selah.
From these verses we may learn that no innocence can shield a man from the calumnies of the wicked. David had been scrupulously careful to avoid any appearance of rebellion against Saul, whom he constantly styled “the Lord’s Anointed”; but all this could not protect him from lying tongues. As the shadow follows the substance, so envy pursues goodness. It is only at the tree laden with fruit that men throw stones. If we would live without being slandered, we must wait till we get to heaven. Let us be very heedful not to believe the flying rumours which are always assailing gracious men. If there are no believers in slander, there will be but a dull market in falsehood, and good men’s characters will be safe. Ill-will never spoke well. Sinners have an ill-will to saints, and therefore, we may be sure they will not speak well of them.
6 Arise, O Lord, in thine anger, lift up thyself because of the rage of mine enemies: and awake for me to the judgment that thou hast commanded.
7 So shall the congregation of the people compass thee about: for their sakes therefore return thou on high.
8 The Lord shall judge the people: judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me.
9 Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins.
10 My defence is of God, which saveth the upright in heart.
11 God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.
12 If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready.
13 He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors.
14 Behold, he travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood.
15 He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made.
16 His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate.
17 I will praise the Lord according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the Lord most high.
Oh, how good to have a true and upright heart. Crooked sinners, with all their craftiness, are foiled by honest spirits. God defends the right. Filth will not long abide on the pure white garments of the saints, but shall be brushed off by divine providence, to the vexation of the men by whose base hands it was thrown. The believer should not fear anything which his foes can do or say against him, for the tree which God plants no winds can uproot. God judgeth the righteous, he hath not given them up to their persecutors.
Delight thyself in God, he’ll give
Thine heart’s desire to thee:
Commit thy way to God alone,
It brought to pass shall be.
And like unto the light he shall
Thy righteousness display;
And he thy judgment shall bring forth,
Like noontide of the day.