<> O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;
Verse 1. - O God, thou art my God; or, my strong God (Eli) - my Tower of strength. Early will I seek thee. The song was, perhaps, composed in the night watches, and poured forth at early dawn, when the king woke "refreshed" (comp. vers. 5, 6; and 2 Samuel 16:14). My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee; or, pineth for thee (the verb occurs only in this place). Soul and body equally long for God, and especially desire to worship him in the sanctuary (ver. 2). In a dry and thirsty (or, weary) land, where no water is. This is figurative, no doubt; but it may also contain an allusion to the literal fact (2 Samuel 16:2; 2 Samuel 17:29).
To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.
Verse 2. - To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. This is the form which the longing takes - to see God once more worshipped in the sanctuary in all the "beauty of holiness," as he had so often seen him previously (comp. 2 Samuel 15:25).
Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.
Verse 3. - Because thy loving kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. The complete resignation of the psalmist, his sense of God's "loving kindness," and his desire to "praise," not to complain, are, under the circumstances, most wonderful, most admirable, and furnish a pattern to the Church in all ages.
Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.
Verse 4. - Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy Name (comp. Psalm 104:33; Psalm 146:2). The purpose of man's creation, the end of his being, his main employment throughout eternity, is the praise of God.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:
Verse 5. - My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness. The "marrow and fatness" of the sacrificial feasts caused a delight to worshippers, which was no doubt partly sensuous. The memory of them occurs to the psalmist, but only as the shadow and emblem of the far deeper joy and satisfaction which he finds in the spiritual worship of the Most High, and especially in the offering of praise and thanksgiving. And my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips; or, while my mouth praiseth thee (see the Prayer book Version, which brings out the true sense).
When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.
Verse 6. - When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. David had doubtless done this during the long and anxious night which followed his first day in the wilderness of Judea (2 Samuel 16:14).
Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.
Verse 7. - Because thou hast been my help. God had already delivered David out of so many dangers and troubles, that he felt all the more confidence for the future. Therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice (see the comment on Psalm 61:4).
My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.
Verse 8. - My soul followeth hard after thee; or, clingeth close after thee (Kay, Cheyne); "Tibi adhaeret teque sequitur" (Gesenius) - longs to come as near to thee as possible; while, on thy part, thy right hand upholdeth me; i.e. with a reciprocal action, thou puttest forth thy right hand to sustain and support me, drawing me to thee, and holding me, as it were, in thy embrace.
But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth.
Verse 9. - But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth. Professor Cheyne notes that "the psalmist has no sense of any incongruity between deeply spiritual musings and vehement denunciations of his enemies." And this is certainly true. But it is to be remembered that he views his enemies, not merely as his own fees, but as the foes of God and of Israel. As the servant of God, he must hate those who are opposed to God; as the King of Israel, he must hate those who seek to injure and ruin his people. He does not, however, desire for them suffering or torment; he only asks that they may be removed from this sphere into another world. (On David's conception of the lower world, see the comment upon Psalm 16:10 and Psalm 86:13.)
They shall fall by the sword: they shall be a portion for foxes.
Verse 10. - They shall fall by the sword; i.e. in battle - the natural end of those who stir up civil strife. They shall be a portion for foxes; rather, for jackals (see 2 Samuel 18:6-8).
But the king shall rejoice in God; every one that sweareth by him shall glory: but the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped.
Verse 11. - But the king shall rejoice in God. The "king," thus suddenly introduced, cannot be an entirely new personage, unknown to the rest of the psalm, and, therefore, must be the composer, speaking of himself in the third person (comp. Psalm 18:50; Psalm 72:1). Every one that sweareth by him (i.e. by God) shall glory; or, shall triumph (Kay). Those who swear by the Name of God show themselves to be believers in God, and will be upheld by him in time of danger (see Deuteronomy 6:13; Isaiah 65:16). But the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped. (On the falsehoods told by David's enemies, see 2 Samuel 15:3; 2 Samuel 16:7, 8; and comp. Psalm 38:12; Psalm 41:5-8.)