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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 71

Clarke's CommentaryClarke Commentary

Verse 1


The prophet, in confidence, prays for God's favour, 1-5;

recounts God's kindness to him from youth to old age, 6-9;

shows what his adversaries plot against him, and prays for

their confusion, 10-13;

promises fidelity, and determines to be a diligent preacher of

righteousness even in old age, 16-19;

takes encouragement in God's mercy, and foresees the confusion

of all his adversaries, 20-24.


There is no title to this Psalm either in the Hebrew or Chaldee; and the reason is, it was written as a part of the preceding Psalm, as appears by about twenty-seven of Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS. The Vulgate, Septuagint, AEthiopic, and Arabic, have, "A Psalm of David for the sons of Jonadab, and the first of those who were led captives." For the first, second, and third verses, see the notes on their parallels, Psalms 31:1-3.

Verse 3

Verse Psalms 71:3. Be thou my strong habitation — Instead of מען maon, habitation, many of Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS. read מעז maoz, munition or defence. Be thou my rock of defence.

Thou hast given commandment to save me — Thou hast determined my escape, and hast ordered thy angels to guard me. See Psalms 91:11-12.

Verse 4

Verse Psalms 71:4. Out of the hand of the wicked — Probably his unnatural son Absalom, called here רשע rasha, the WICKED, because he had violated all laws, human and Divine.

The unrighteous and cruel man. — Probably Ahithophel who was the iniquitous counsellor of a wicked and rebellious son.

Verse 5

Verse Psalms 71:5. My trust from my youth. — When I was born into the world, thou didst receive me, and thou tookest me under thy especial care. "My praise shall be continually of thee." Rather, I have always made thee my boast.

Verse 7

Verse Psalms 71:7. I am as a wonder unto many — I am כמופת kemopheth, "as a portent," or "type:" I am a typical person; and many of the things that happen to me are to be considered in reference to him of whom I am a type. But he may mean I am a continual prodigy. My low estate, my slaying the lion and the bear, conquering the Philistine, escaping the fury of Saul, and being raised to the throne of Israel, are all so many wonders of thy providence, and effects of thy power and grace.

Verse 9

Verse Psalms 71:9. Cast me not off in the time of old age — The original might be translated and paraphrased thus: "Thou wilt not cast me off till the time of old age; and according to the failure of my flesh, thou wilt not forsake me." My expectation of rest and happiness will not be deferred till the time that I shall be an aged man, Thou wilt not withdraw thy presence from me as my flesh decays, and as my natural strength abates; but, on the contrary, as my outward man decays, my inward man shall be renewed day by day. It was in David's old age that the rebellion of Absalom took place.

Verse 10

Verse Psalms 71:10. Lay wait for my soul — They seek to destroy my life.

Verse 11

Verse Psalms 71:11. God hath forsaken him — "God, who has been his special help all through life, and who has guarded him so that no hand could be raised successfully against him, has now cast him off; therefore we shall easily prevail against him. His present adversity shows that God is no longer his friend." Thus men judge. "Secular prosperity is a proof of God's favour: adversity is a proof of his displeasure." But this is not God's way, except in especial judgments, &c. He never manifests his pleasure or displeasure by secular good or ill.

Verse 13

Verse Psalms 71:13. Let them be confounded — They shall be confounded: these are prophetic denunciations.

Verse 14

Verse Psalms 71:14. I will hope continually — I shall expect deliverance after deliverance, and blessing after blessing; and, in consequence, I will praise thee more and more. As thy blessings abound, so shall my praises.

Verse 15

Verse Psalms 71:15. I know not the numbers — I must be continually in the spirit of gratitude, praise, and obedience, for thy blessings to me are innumerable.

Verse 16

Verse Psalms 71:16. I will go — אבוא abo, I will enter, i.e., into the tabernacle, in the strength or mightinesses of Adonai Jehovah, the supreme God, who is my Prop, Stay, and Support.

I will make mention of thy righteousness — I will continually record and celebrate the acts of thy mercy and goodness. They are without number, (Psalms 71:15,) and of these alone will I speak.

Verse 17

Verse Psalms 71:17. Thou hast taught me from my youth — I have had thee for my continual instructor: and thou didst begin to teach me thy fear and love from my tenderest infancy. Those are well taught whom God instructs; and when he teaches, there is no delay in learning.

Verse 18

Verse Psalms 71:18. Old and grey-headed — In the ninth verse Psalms 71:9 he mentioned the circumstance of old age; here he repeats it, with the addition of hoary-headedness, which, humanly speaking, was calculated to make a deeper impression in his favour. Though all these things are well known to God, and he needs not our information, yet he is pleased to say, "Come now, and let us reason together." And when his children plead and reason with him, they are acting precisely as he has commanded.

Verse 19

Verse Psalms 71:19. Thy righteousness - is very high — עד מרום ad marom - is up to the exalted place, reaches up to heaven. The mercy of God fills all space and place. It crowns in the heavens what it governed upon earth.

Who hast done great things — גדלות gedoloth. Thou hast worked miracles, and displayed the greatest acts of power.

Who is like unto thee! — מי כמוך mi camocha. God is alone, - who can resemble him? He is eternal. He can have none before, and there can be none after; for in the infinite unity of his trinity he is that eternal, unlimited, impartible, incomprehensible, and uncompounded ineffable Being, whose essence is hidden from all created intelligences, and whose counsels cannot be fathomed by any creature that even his own hand can form. WHO IS LIKE UNTO THEE! will excite the wonder, amazement, praise, and adoration of angels and men to all eternity.

Verse 20

Verse Psalms 71:20. Thou, which hast showed me great and sore troublesMultiplied straits and difficulties. And thou hast only showed them. Hadst thou permitted them to have fallen upon me with all their own energy and natural consequences, they would have destroyed me. As it was, I was nearly buried under them.

Shalt quicken me again — Shalt revive me - put new life in me. This has been applied to the passion of our Lord, and his resurrection; for it is added, Thou

Shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth. — Death shall not prey upon my body; thy Holy One can see no corruption. As applicable to David, it might mean his being almost overwhelmed with afflictions; and his deliverance was like a life from the dead.

Verse 21

Verse Psalms 71:21. Thou shalt increase my greatness — Thou wilt restore me to my throne and kingdom; and it shall be done in such a way that all shall see it was the hand of God; and I shall have the more honour on the account.

Comfort me on every side. — I shall have friends in all quarters; and the tribes on all sides will support me.

Verse 22

Verse Psalms 71:22. I will also praise thee with the psaltery — בכלי נבל bichli nebel, with the instrument nebel. Unto thee will I sing with the harp; בכנור bechinnor, with the kinnor. Both were stringed instruments, and the principal used in the Jewish worship; and with which, or any thing like them, in Divine worship, we, as Christians, have nothing to do.

Verse 23

Verse Psalms 71:23. My lips shall greatly rejoice - and my soul — My lips shall use words expressive of my soul's happiness and gratitude. Thou hast redeemed me; and thou shalt have the eternal praise.

Verse 24

Verse Psalms 71:24. Talk of thy righteousness — The righteousness of God is frequently used in this Psalm, and in other places, to signify his justice, judgments, faithfulness, truth, mercy, c. There are few words of more general import in the Bible.

They are confounded — The counsel of Ahithophel is confounded, and turned to foolishness, and he was so ashamed that he went and hanged himself. As to the vain and wicked Absalom, he met with the fate that he had meditated against his father. Though not yet done, David sees all these things as actually accomplished for he had got a Divine assurance that God would bring them to pass.


The parts of this Psalm, generally, are these two: -

I. A prayer that God would help and deliver him, which he urges by many arguments, Psalms 71:1-21.

II. His vow of thanksgiving, Psalms 71:22-24.

I. 1. His petition in general: "Let me never be put to confusion."

2. He intimates the cause: "I put my trust in thee," c., Psalms 71:2.

To induce the Lord to hear, he uses many arguments, drawn, -

1. From his justice and equity: "Deliver me in thy righteousness."

2. From his word and promise: "Thou hast given commandment," c.

3. From his power: "Thou art my rock," &c.

4. From his relation to him: "My God, my hope."

5. From the qualities of his adversaries: "They were wicked, unrighteous, and cruel."

6. From his confidence: "Thou art my hope."

7. From his gracious providence: "By thee have I been holden up," &c.

8. From his thankful heart: "My praise shall be continually," &c.

9. He had none to trust to but GOD: "Thou art my refuge."

3. He resumes his prayer: "Cast me not off in the time of old age," &c.

He describes his enemies: -

1. They were continual calumniators: "Mine enemies speak against me."

2. They laboured to take away his life.

3. They studied mischief against him: "They take counsel together."

4. Their words were cruel: "God hath forsaken him persecute," c.

4. He resumes his prayer, and predicts his enemies' downfall: "O my God, be not far from me make haste for my help."

He prays against his enemies, -

1. "Let them be confounded," c.: they shall be confounded.

2. He expresses his hope: "I will hope continually."

3. And his purpose of gratitude: "I will praise thee more and more."

4. He pleads from his past experience of God's mercy to him.

1. God had "taught him from his youth" both by his word and Spirit.

2. Hitherto he had "declared God's wondrous works."

3. Therefore, "forsake me not now that I am old and grey-headed."

4. I have still much to do: "Until I have showed thy strength," &c.

From all these considerations he feels gratitude, and praises God.

1. Thy righteousness is very high. There is nothing like IT.

2. God is wonderful: "There is none like HIM."

Of all this he had full and satisfactory proof.

1. Thou hast showed me troubles - "sore troubles."

2. Yet thou shalt revive me.

3. Thou "shalt bring me from the depths of the earth."

4. "Thou shalt increase my greatness."

5. "Thou shalt support me on every side."

II. The SECOND part contains David's thanksgiving.

1. He will praise the truth of the "Holy One of Israel:" not only with nebel and kinnor - instruments of music then used, -

2. But with his lips and soul heart and mouth going together.

3. With his tongue speaking of God's goodness to others.

4. And for this reason, "They are confounded, for they are brought to shame that seek my hurt."

Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Psalms 71". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/acc/psalms-71.html. 1832.
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