By Henry Law
Trouble, prayer, confidence, and praise are the pervading notes of this instructive hymn. Our faith will surely have its trials. May each trial cause it to grow stronger! The shaken tree takes firmer root.
1, 2. "Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy! I look to you for protection. I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings until this violent storm is past."
The help of mercy is here keenly felt. A reiterated cry calls down its aid. In prayer importunity can never be excessive. Sometimes answers are delayed that this sweet exercise may be prolonged. Abundant pleas enforce the soul's desires. Here confidence in God is urged. It is a prevailing utterance, 'Help me, for in You is all my trust.'
As when storms give sign of near approach, or the hawk hovers in the sky, the frightened brood seek shelter beneath the parent's wings, so the believer hides himself in God, and will not leave his refuge while perils are still near. Faith knows well the Covenant, and cries in full assurance that no good thing will be withheld, and that God, who begins the work of grace, will carry it to its end in glory.
3, 4. "He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him who would swallow me up. God shall send forth His mercy and His truth. My soul is among lions; and I lie even among those who are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword."
Here faith looks not for mercy only, but for fulfillment of the pledged word. Happy are those who are well versed in the exceeding great and precious promises, and can confidently pray, 'Do as You have said.' It is this confidence which sustains God's children even when malignity most rages and cruelty is most fierce. Such was David's case when Saul and all his court pursued with every form of persecution. He knew their savage malice; his eyes were open to their unsparing violence; but he looked upwards, and fainted not.
5. "Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be above all the earth."
It is a precious thought, that when God appears to vindicate His people's cause there is accession to the glories of His name. The adversaries cannot but discern the favoring and protecting arm. They tremble, and their fear gives reverence to God. Therefore when we beseech God to stand by our side, we ask that honor and praise and glory may be more truly given.
6. "They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down; they have dug a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves."
After this prayer David reverts to his foes; he sees their plots, and is oppressed; he sees the pit prepared in his path, but he feels that his steps will not be entrapped, but that the ruin so craftily designed will be ruin to the contrivers.
7. "My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise."
In all his troubles his steadfast confidence in God could not be moved. He stood as a rock amid assailing billows; he realized his sure deliverance; his ready harp was tuned for praise.
8, 9, 10, 11. "Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp; I myself will awake early. I will praise You, O Lord, among the people; I will sing unto You among the nations; for Your mercy is great unto the heavens, and your truth unto the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be above all the earth."
Intense is the desire of faith to glorify God. The believer chides his tongue for being dull and remiss in this delightful duty. He resolves to redeem time from unnecessary repose that the refreshed faculties may consecrate their powers to God. He resolves that all to whom his voice could extend should hear of the great attributes of God. His delight shall be to tell of mercy and truth. But how can their infinitudes be reached? High are the heavens above the earth, but higher far is mercy which overtops the skies, and truth which soars above our powers to comprehend. The chorus again sounds, "Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be above all the earth."