Similarity of circumstance leads to similarity of
conduct. Continued troubles prompt continued prayer. Prayer may wrestle
long, but it will never strive in vain. Answers will come—the answers will
be deliverance. In reading this, may we gain holy comfort!
1, 2. "Be merciful to me, O God; for man would swallow
me up; he fighting daily oppresses me. My enemies would daily swallow me up;
for they are many who fight against me, O Most High."
We are not left in doubt as to the occasion which
prompted this hymn. David flees from the persecuting Saul. His steps guide
him to a persecuting land. He would make Gath his hiding-place; but vain is
his hope of refuge in man. There is no friendly support for him there. The
men of Gath would give him up to Saul. His eyes are open to his perilous
condition. A multitude pursue him with inveterate hate. The wild beasts
rushing with open mouths to devour their prey are the fit emblem of his
pursuing foes. He clearly sees that in man there is no safety for him. He
looks away. He looks above. He asks no pity from surrounding foes, but he
asks pity from Him whose pitying ears are ever open to the cry of faith. He
humbly prays, Be merciful to me, O God! There is mighty power in the cry,
"God be merciful to me, a sinner!" It never will go forth in vain. It takes
Him by storm whose delight is mercy, whose riches is His mercy, whose mercy
is built up forever.
3, 4. "When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God I
will praise His word; in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh
can do to me."
Natural feelings have deep root, and will continue to
spring up in the most enlightened hearts. When David looked around he saw
encompassing enemies. Saul threatened in the rear—the Philistines encamped
in front. Thus when he looked to MAN timidities were prone to rise.
Tremblings allowed that he knew fear, but happy confidence was not extinct.
Many waters cannot drown love; many troubles cannot slay faith. Out of the
lowest depths he looked above, and saw bright light. His heart responded, I
am afraid, but I will trust. God was his confidence. God's word was the
strong foundation on which his heart was fixed. Realizing his oneness with
his God, he felt that all God's promises were his unfailing heritage. His
word was a safeguard which shielded his breast; it was the helmet which
guarded his head; it was the sword before which no foe could stand; it was
the light which dispelled all darkness; it was the song which drowned the
clattering of advancing foes. Blessed is the man who can similarly cry, In
God I will praise His word. But what praise can do justice to its exceeding
5-7. "Every day they wrest my words; all their
thoughts are against me for evil. They gather themselves together, they hide
themselves, they mark my steps, when they wait for my soul. Shall they
escape by iniquity? In your anger cast down the people, O God."
The constant effort of the godly to walk without reproach
in the sight of man fails to secure success. Words uttered in loving spirit
and in pious frame are perverted by the lips of slander. The ungodly unite
in cruel plots, and watch, with base design, the most blameless walk.
Instantly the case of our beloved Lord appears. False
witnesses were obtained; things were laid to His charge from which he was
entirely apart. If these things were done in the green tree, what shall be
done in the dry? Faith then puts the crucial question, 'Shall they escape by
iniquity?' They may escape the censure and condemnation of the world, but
there is a judgment coming, in which assuredly they will be cast.
8. "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have
collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your
"God sees me," is the sweet solace of the true believer.
"He knows the way that I take," will make that rugged way seem smooth. If
perils and distress so shake the heart that plenteous tears give evidence of
suffering, these tears are marked on high, and tender compassion will wipe
them all away. The day has not yet come when there shall be no more tears.
But the day is always present when they awaken sympathy in the Redeemer's
breast. He who wept on earth will soon wipe all tears away.
9, 10, 11. "When I cry to You, then shall my enemies
turn back; this I know; for God is for me. In God will I praise His word; in
the Lord will I praise His word. In God have I put my trust; I will not be
afraid what man can do to me."
Faith boasts of near and assured deliverance. It is
confident of success. Its deep feeling is, 'This I know.' But where does
this knowledge come from? There is assurance that God is a present help.
Hence the fear of man vanishes as mist before the rising sun.
12, 13. "Your vows are upon me, O God; I will render
praises unto You. For You have delivered my soul from death; will You not
deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the
In days of trouble vows are often made that merciful
deliverance shall be duly praised. Let these vows be fully paid, and let the
assurance brighten, that He who died to save the soul from eternal death,
will never permit that soul to perish in the upward path. The haven is sure;
the voyage shall be without a wreck.