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Bible Commentaries

Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Psalms 25

Psalms 25

The Psalm begins and concludes with the prayer for deliverance from enemies: and this is to be considered as its peculiar theme. The forgiveness of sins, which the Psalmist frequently claims in the middle, is introduced only as the ground of the deliverance. But of moral strength there is no mention made throughout the Psalm.

There are no traces in the contents of any particular occasion for which the Psalm might be composed; and the prayer on behalf of Israel at the close, is altogether unfavourable to any such. For the transition from the individual to the whole body was much easier when the Psalm was, from the first, intended to awaken the godly, when they are pressed hard by their enemies, to hope in the guidance and protection of God. Lastly, the form in which the Psalm is composed, is decidedly against any particular reference. The alphabetical arrangement, which obtains here, as in Psalms 34, Psalms 37, Psalms 111, Psalms 112, Psalms 119, Psalms 145, is throughout adopted in Psalms which are general in their character, and seems, from its nature, to be suitable only for such.

The superscription announces that David is the author; and with this announcement the contents of the Psalm are fully accordant. David was peculiarly exposed to sufferings, arising from enemies, throughout a great part of his life; he always treats this subject with peculiar delight, and regarded it as the main duty of his life to comfort others with the same consolation wherewith he himself had been comforted of God. But the alphabetical arrangement has been pleaded as furnishing some ground for doubt on this point: “this conceit belongs to a later age of degenerate taste.” This might with as much propriety be said of such poems as “ befiel du deine wege” of P. Gerhardt, and “ wie schön leucht uns der Morgenstern” of Nikola., because these poems are characterized by such conceits as might not have been expected in such eminent and powerful writers. One single superscription, assigning an alphabetical Psalm to David, is entitled to more weight than this a priori assertion And there are several such superscriptions. And, besides, there are at least two alphabetical Psalms, the Psalms 9 and Psalms 10, which, from internal evidence of the strongest kind, we know were composed by David. Lastly, we deny that the alphabetical arrangement ought to be termed “conceit.” It belongs in general to those means which have been adopted for the purpose of giving to poetical compositions that character of compactness which so essentially belongs to them, and it stands on the same footing exactly with the parallelism of clauses, and the strophe arrangement. It can deserve to be called a conceit only when it is forced upon resisting materials (its use being, from the nature of the case, confined within a narrow compass), or when it is employed in a composition which requires a strict progression of thought and feeling. It occurs, however, at least when completely carried out, only in a particular class of Psalms,—those, namely, in which the effort is obvious to arrange a collection of individual sayings, which, from beginning to end, bear upon the same subject, but are presented in different aspects, and always with new additions. For such Psalms, the alphabetical arrangement—the carrying out of the thought through the whole alphabet, the symbol of completeness and compactness—is exceedingly natural. De Wette indeed maintains that the want of connection is the consequence, not the cause, of the alphabetical arrangement. But on this supposition there are certain facts which cannot be explained: the alphabetical arrangement does not so completely stand in the way of the connection, as to render abortive every attempt, however zealous, to unite them together. But in the Psalms no such effort is at all conspicuous. The writers of the Psalms were under the less necessity of sacrificing the connection for the sake of the alphabetical arrangement, that they make a much freer use of it than is observed to have been done among other nations. From this fact, the objection of conceit or constraint may be the more easily set aside. Even within its own peculiar province, the alphabetical arrangement is pursued only in so far as it can be done without any constraint. How little force, then, there is in what has been said of the alphabetical arrangement, that it corresponds to a special need, is evident from the fact, that we find it adopted by very different nations, and always in poetry of a particular kind.

Nothing beyond this, of any consequence, has been adduced against considering David as the author of the Psalm. For example, it has been said that the prayer at the close of the Psalm, for deliverance for Israel out of all his troubles, does not correspond to the time of David. But it need scarcely be remarked, that at all times, even the most prosperous, there is enough of trouble; and that our assuming David to be the author of the Psalm, does not necessarily imply that we limit its application to the circumstances of his day.

The low opinions which have been formed as to the merits of the Psalm, proceed from misunderstanding its peculiar character and design. As an alphabetical Psalm, it is beautiful; and whoever reads it in the frame of mind in which an alphabetical Psalm ought to be read, will find it to be both beautiful and edifying.

The alphabetical arrangement in our Psalm is not strictly adhered to. The ( Psalms 25:2) second verse begins, like the ( Psalms 25:1) first, with א , and the ב follows at the second word. The ל is either omitted, or it occurs, not at the beginning, but at the middle of the verse. The ק is altogether wanting. On the other hand, there are two verses which begin with ר . After the last letter ת , there is a verse beginning with פ . A great many critics, up to Hitzig and Ewald, have considered it necessary to remove these irregularities by emendations. But there are many very weighty reasons to be urged against every such attempt. 1. Errors of this kind in alphabetical Psalms are extremely unlikely to occur: the opposite may be expected, viz. alterations made by transcribers, with a view to remove irregularities. 2. Such irregularities occur in all the alphabetical Psalms without exception. 3. There are gradations among the deviations in particular Psalms: first, there are cases in which only a single irregularity occurs, and where, of course, a critical emendation might with some appearance of propriety be made; second, there are cases, such as Psalms 9 and Psalms 10, in which nothing more than an attempt at alphabetical arrangement seems to have been made, and which utterly defy all efforts of emendatory criticism; and, lastly, there are cases in which the alphabetical arrangement is directed, not so much to the first word as to the number of the verses. The extensive deviations indicate that the minor ones are original, and to be attributed to the author himself. 4. There are special reasons in the Psalm before us why no alterations should be attempted The omission of the ק is evidently not accidental, as its place is occupied by ר , the letter following it in the alphabet: nothing can be suggested either in the case of ק or ר , which might have been appropriately substituted; and it is as clear as day that the author sacrificed the form to the sense. The first and the last verses are peculiar, inasmuch as they consist each of only one clause, while all the other verses contain two; they thus stand out, as it were, from the series, for the purpose of being recognised as the beginning and the end. And it is natural that they should preserve this character also in reference to the alphabetical arrangement. The א , although it begins Psalms 25:1, yet, as if this were regarded in a certain measure as accidental, is repeated at the beginning of the proper series, in Psalms 25:2,—in such a manner, however, as that, while it gets, as it were, what is its due, it has not a whole verse devoted to it, for ב follows in the second word; the last verse again, which begins with its פ (instead of which any other letter would have answered equally well), stands altogether out of the alphabetical arrangement. Hitzig’s attempt to join the אלהי of Psalms 25:2 to Psalms 25:1, proceeds from an entire misapprehension of this correspondence between the beginning and the end of the Psalm: the same remark may be made on his singular hypothesis in reference to the פ .

Verse 1

Ver. 1. To Thee, O Lord, do I bear my soul. The bearing of the soul to the Lord (נשא נפש means always to bear the soul, to bear towards, never to lift; compare Psalms 24:4, and Deuteronomy 24:15) signifies the longing of the heart after Him. The soul is wherever the object of its regard is. The more immediate object which the Psalmist has in view becomes obvious in the following verse, where we find him speaking of seeking help from the Lord. Hence the longing after God, here spoken of, is the longing after Him as the Saviour, the helper in all trouble: compare Psalms 8, where the bearing of the soul to God stands parallel with trusting in Him: “Cause me to hear Thy loving-kindness in the morning, for in Thee do I trust; cause me to know the way wherein I should walk, for I bear my soul to Thee.” The Psalmist says, that when in distress, he does not, like the ungodly, draw his soul at one time in this direction, and at another time in that; that he does not seek to catch now at this, now at that ignis fatuus of human help: but that he goes straight with all his desire to God, and that he rests in His protection. In the form of fact, there is in reality an exhortation expressed: I bear, which is put into the mouth of the sufferer, in whose name the Psalmist speaks, contains the hortative “bear” in it. The lively and undivided desire for the help of the Lord, is the indispensable condition, and at the same time the sure ground, of deliverance.

Verse 2

Ver. 2. My God, I trust in Thee, let me not be put to shame, let not mine enemies rejoice over me. The import is, “ therefore, may I not,” etc. The trust in God of this verse corresponds to the bearing of the soul to Him of the preceding verse. The Psalmist grounds his prayer for deliverance on the general truth, that that man shall never be put to shame who hopes in God: the maxim, “that whoever puts his confidence in God shall not be forsaken,” is the ground of his hope, his confidence, and his joy. This maxim, from which he draws an inference applicable to his special case, is expressly announced in Psalms 25:3.

Verse 3

Ver. 3. Yea, all who wait on Thee shall not be put to shame: those shall be put to shame who act perfidiously without cause. The waiting corresponds to the drawing of the soul to the Lord, and to the trusting in Him, of the preceding verses. The yea, which superficial observers have supposed to be dragged in for the sake of the alphabetical arrangement, indicates that the sufferer does not claim anything peculiar for himself, but only what belongs to all who are in the same circumstances. It is only when this “yea” can be uttered, that the prayer has a solid foundation. The Futures are not, according to many interpreters, to be considered as optatives (this would give to the verse a very insipid character); they give utterance to a general truth. The בגד has its usual sense, to act perfidiously. The perfidiousness is such as is perpetrated not against God, but against our neighbour. Perfidiousness comprehended every violation of duty towards one’s neighbour. For there existed a brotherly relationship among all the members of the Church of God: all were descended from the same bodily and spiritual race, all were interested in the covenant; and, as such, all had vowed not only love to God, but also love to each other. And perfidiousness was the want of this due and promised love. Perfidiousness, moreover, might be seen in the violation of some particular relationship, arising out of what was general in its origin. Compare Psalms 9. The highest degree of wickedness exists where fidelity is violated without a cause,—ריקם , without any provocation on the other side,—where perfidiousness is practised against him who is faithful. Many expositors have been led to adopt a false interpretation, from the idea that, as there is no suitable contrast between those who wait on God and the perfidious, the perfidiousness must be that which has God for its object. But this ground proves nothing: for hope in God is grounded on a good conscience; the man who is not faithful to his neighbour, cannot hope for the help of God; as often as he attempts to do so, he meets with the terrible reply, “Depart from Me, ye workers of iniquity.” We are prevented from considering God as the object of the perfidiousness by the expression, “without cause,” which is, properly, “empty,” and secondarily, “without ground;” as when we speak of “empty,” that is, “groundless excuses;” and stands in the same connection as it does in those clauses which speak of the unprovoked violation of duty towards a neighbour in Psalms 7:4: compare the corresponding שׂ נְ אַ י חִ נּ ָ ם in Psalms 69:4. In these passages, “without a cause,” cannot refer to God—the expressions there explain themselves. ריקם signifies “thoughtless,” “wicked,” or, “in a vain worthless way;” and may be taken as a verbal proof of the Davidic origin of our Psalm, as it occurs nowhere else in a similar connection except in Psalms 7:4. But quite decisive is the relation between the expression, “mine enemies,” in Psalms 25:2, and the expression, “perfidious without a cause:” Let me, who trust in Thee, not be ashamed, for all who wait on Thee are kept from being put to shame: let mine enemies not triumph over me, for all who, like mine enemies, are perfidious without a cause, are forbidden to triumph, and shall be put to shame; and it would be a turning of the tables if Thou wert to permit them to triumph, and me to be put to shame. Finally, the expression at the ( Psalms 25:19) 19th verse, “they hate me with cruel hatred,” is all the more deserving of being compared with the one before us, that it is impossible to fail to observe the correspondence between the beginning and the conclusion of the Psalm.

Verse 4

Ver. 4. Make known to me Thy ways, O Lord; teach me Thy paths. Expositors generally understand by “the ways and paths of the Lord,” “that manner of life which is well-pleasing to Him.” The Psalmist, on this supposition, prays for instruction and guidance that he may walk worthily in these ways. But it is much more correct to suppose that the Psalmist is here repeating in other words the prayer which he had already uttered in the preceding verse, and that the ways of God are the ways of deliverance, which He makes known to His own that they may walk in them—a limitation which results from the person of the speaker: the Psalmist is not speaking of the ways of God generally, but only of those which relate to godly sufferers; and these, according to His nature and word, can be none other than the ways of deliverance. That this interpretation is the correct one, is clear from the connection, which would be broken in an unpleasant manner by the prayer for moral guidance; also from the circumstance, that in the (Psalms 34) 34th Psalm, which is nearly related to the one before us, the prayer is only for the protection of God in trouble. It is still further clear from the for in the ( Psalms 25:5) 5th verse: “Teach me Thy way, and lead me in it, for Thou art the God of my deliverance.” It is impossible to do justice to this for in any other way than by supposing that the making known of the ways, and the guidance in them, indicate nothing else than safety and deliverance. How strong this proof is, is evident even from the remark of De Wette: “That the second clause of this verse is not closely connected (according to his exposition) with what goes before (and yet כי shows that such a connection must necessarily exist), and that we must not give to ‘my God of salvation’ too exact an interpretation!” Further, the ( Psalms 25:10) 10th verse is in favour of this exposition, where, as is undeniable and generally allowed, “the ways” are “those in which He leads His own.” Compare “all His ways are truth” in Deuteronomy 32:4. In like manner also, Psalms 25:9.

Verse 5

Ver. 5. Lead me in Thy truth and teach me, for Thou art the God of my salvation; I wait on Thee continually. Most expositors consider “in Thy truth,” as equivalent to “in true godliness, which is well-pleasing to Thee,” or even (Hitzig) “in fidelity to Thee.” But this view is opposed, in the first place, by כי , to which we have already adverted in exposing the false interpretation put upon the preceding verse. Secondly, אמת יהוה is always, “the truth and faithfulness which belongs to God,” and never, “the truth which He desires, and which is well-pleasing to Him,” or “faithfulness towards Him.” Compare Psalms 30:10, Psalms 71:22, Psalms 91:4. Lastly, this exposition is opposed by the ( Psalms 25:9) 9th verse: “All the ways of the Lord are grace and truth.” Here, as in the above-mentioned, and in all other passages, “the truth of God” is “His faithfulness in fulfilling His promises.” In so far as this should be exhibited in the experience of the Psalmist, he represents it as the way in which he prays that God would lead him (הדריךְ? , generally with ב of the way in which one is led), just as he says in Psalms 25:9, The meek God leads in righteousness, in the paths of the same.” Compare also Psalms 26:3. After the words, “teach me,” we must supply, “Thy truth, let me know it by experience.” It appears that the v here stands instead of a vau at the beginning of a verse, where it could not have been conveniently placed; and that the Psalmist, for the purpose of making this apparent, repeats a word which he had already used, and introduces it in an abrupt manner: the strange appearance of the למדני was meant to suggest that it was thus placed from regard to the alphabetical arrangement. The reason assigned in the second clause of the verse, applies equally to the preceding verse, as to the first clause of this one. God must undertake for the Psalmist, because He is his Saviour, and the only ground of his hope.

Verse 6

Ver. 6. Remember Thy tender mercies, O Lord, and Thy favours; for they are from eternity. God cannot be unlike Himself: He cannot deny His character. Love and goodness have been His attributes from eternity; He has always had compassion on His own people, as a father has on his children; and therefore He cannot do otherwise than make the Psalmist, who is one of His children, partaker of His love and pity.

Verse 7

Ver. 7. Remember not the sins of my youth, and my transgressions: according to Thy grace remember me, for Thy goodness’ sake, O Lord. Calvin explains as follows the connection with the preceding verse: “Because our sins raise up a partition wall between us and God, so that He does not hear our wishes, or stretch out His hand to help us, David now takes this obstacle out of the way. He acknowledges that he cannot otherwise, than by having his sins forgiven, be made partaker of the favour of God.” But the forgiveness of sin is rather that in which God first makes known that favour and pity, for the manifestation of which the Psalmist had prayed in the preceding verse. If he has really become partaker of this, salvation and deliverance will follow as a matter of course. God remembers His tender mercies, for He cannot do otherwise, since they have dwelt with Him from eternity; and therefore He cannot remember the sins of the Psalmist’s youth, for to remember them would be to give scope to His strict justice, and not to His tender mercy. The Psalmist makes mention of his sins of youth, not as if he were now an immaculate saint, but because in youth the power of original corruption is particularly strong: my sins, in which my youth particularly was so rich. Luther: “For youth is not fit for virtue, or for anything that is good; because the blood is still too young and fresh, it cannot govern itself, or think of anything that is useful or good. For if any one will allow a youth to grow up, and do as he likes, he will become quite a devil; before one is aware what he is doing, it is already done.” Compare Job 13:26; 2 Timothy 2:22. That the temptations to sin are strong in youth, is obvious not only in the case of individuals, but also in that of nations. Moses reminds the Israelites ( Deuteronomy 9:7) that they had provoked the Lord from the day that He had led them out of Egypt, and then represents to them, in detail, the sins of their youth. It is all the more important to make this remark, that the Psalm, according to its conclusion, is intended not only for individual members, but also for the whole body of the Church. The “transgressions” is a stronger word than “sins:” the climax implies that the Psalmist acknowledged the whole magnitude, and all the aggravations of his transgressions. In the words, “think on me according to Thy grace,” the Psalmist does not ask God to act towards him in an arbitrary manner, but, like every pious suppliant, that He would act according to the necessity of His own nature. The strict and inexorable righteousness of God comes into operation in regard to those only who are without the covenant and the promises. God is under the necessity of remembering His own children, according to His grace. The words, “for Thy goodness’ sake,” point to this necessity in the nature of God. This is the ground in God from which the fulfilment of the prayer proceeds; because Thou art good, therefore canst Thou not be severe and relentless towards the weakness of Thy people. If God were not good, it would be in vain to offer up to Him such a prayer as this.

Verse 8

Ver. 8. Good and upright is the Lord; therefore does He teach sinners the way. The Psalmist, in the passage from Psalms 25:8-10, in following up, “for Thy goodness’ sake,” enters upon the consideration of the Divine perfections, for the purpose of obtaining thereby stronger confidence in God’s compassion, and new zeal in prayer. The principles on which the early petitions depend are here expressed. Vitringa, at the fundamental passage, Deuteronomy 32:4, has some very important observations upon ישר , upright, in so far as it is used in reference to God. It denotes agreement between the Divine nature and actions on the one hand, and the idea of what is good or Divine on the other, perincle ac architectis rectum dicitur quod exactum est ad libram ant calamum. Vitringa observes, that in this ישר there was made known the true idea of God, which the popular and mythic theology of the Gentiles had corrupted, and remarks, “that in speaking of the operations of Divine providence, we ought to take great care lest we entertain of God the blasphemous and absurd idea that He can do anything which is inconsistent with right reason, equity, and purity.” God, because not good, would not even be upright, were He to fail to assist His own people in spite of their sins of infirmity. The clause, He teaches the way, properly, He instructs in the way (which explains the construction with b, which occurs instead of the usual construction with the accusative also in Psalms 32:8), is equivalent to, He is their leader in the path of life, their helper, their protection. We cannot, as most interpreters do, consider the words as having any reference whatever to moral instruction. This idea is opposed by the relation in which they stand to what goes before, and to what follows. The Psalmist merely expresses in this verse, in the form of a general affirmation, that the regular course of God’s procedure was to grant what he had there besought from God for himself, and which he will still beseech from Him. The verse before us stands in the same relation, to Psalms 25:4-7, as Psalms 25:3 does to Psalms 25:1 and Psalms 25:2. But in Psalms 25:4-7, the discourse is not concerning moral instruction, but concerning forgiveness of sin and salvation. That God helps sinners,—that is, such as are at the same time righteous (the expression is not the sinners: there is also an important difference between חטאים and פשעים or רשאים ), or, what amounts to the same thing, His own people,—is a necessary outgoing of the goodness and righteousness of God, tends to the praise of these attributes.

Verse 9

Ver. 9. He guides the meek in righteousness, and teaches the meek His way. Calvin misinterprets this clause: “He speaks here of the second favour which the Lord imparts to His believing people, after that they have become the willing subjects of His kingdom.” According to the correct exposition, the Psalmist speaks here of the same favour of which he had spoken in the preceding verse. There, as here, the subject is the imparting of help and salvation. The meek here are the sinners of the preceding verse; from which again it is evident what sort of sinners it is that we are to think about;—those, namely, who are at the same time meek. He leads them in righteousness; that is, He gives to them, who do not oppose might with might, justice against their oppressors. Righteousness appears here like a road along which God leads His people, like truth in the ( Psalms 25:4) 4th verse. The abbreviated Future ידרךְ? stands in the sense of the usual form. The whole verse expresses the truth on the foundation of which the prayer of the 4th verse rises; and, as it is evident that it refers to what one experiences, or, what happens to one, that it is altogether inadmissible to think of moral instruction and guidance there.

Verse 10

Ver. 10. All the ways of the Lord are grace and truth to those who keep His covenant and His testimonies. Calvin: “The sum is, God acts in such a manner towards His faithful people as that they experience Him, at all points, to be gracious and true.” The keeping of the covenant and the testimonies stands, according to the ( Psalms 25:8) 8th verse, in opposition to bold and wilful transgressions. Sins of infirmity cannot deprive a man of his interest in the promises of the covenant. The covenant itself provides for them the means of expiation and forgiveness, when they are confessed and repented of.

Verse 11

Ver. 11. For Thy name’s sake, O Lord, thus wilt Thou forgive mine iniquity, for it is great. The ו in וסלחת is what is termed the vau conversivum of the Future; or, according to Ewald, p. 551, Sm. Gr. 613, the vau relative of the first mode. “On account of Thy name,” is “on account of Thy nature.” The name of Jehovah,—arising out of His manifestations,—brings before the mind for contemplation all that Jehovah is, renders present His whole historical character. It is the goodness and righteousness of God, according to Psalms 25:8, that is here brought particularly under notice; according to which, He cannot do otherwise than open up to His own people the fountain of forgiveness. Luther: “We have a throne of grace for sin, so that our Lord God must absolutely shut His eyes, and say, as it stands in Psalms 32:1, Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth not his sin. This is our theology, as we pray in the petition of the Lord’s Prayer, Forgive us our sins; from this we know that we live only under grace. Grace, however, does not only take away sin; it also bears with it, and endures it: this is the import of the throne of grace.” De Wette is mistaken: “An opposition—not for my sake, not on account of any merit of mine.” The Psalmist cannot be excluding his own merit as the ground of forgiveness of sin, for it never occurred to him. The opposition is rather, “Because Thou art good and upright, do not take vengeance on mine iniquity with inexorable severity, but forgive it.” The words, “for it is great,” form the ground of the Psalmist’s prayer for forgiveness. His iniquity is so great, that he must be irremediably lost if God were to deal with him according to his works.

Verse 12

Ver. 12. Who is the man who fears the Lord? He teaches him the way which he may choose. The “Who is the man?” expresses the sense, that wherever there is such a one, he shall not fail of the gracious guidance of God; and that the fear of the Lord and deliverance are inseparably, and without exception, bound together. The way here also, as what follows sufficiently shows, is not to be understood in a moral sense. The fearers of God have, in their journey through life, a faithful leader and guide; the Lord points out to them the way of deliverance. The ungodly, on the other hand, left to themselves, choose the way of destruction; they run upon their own ruin.

Verse 13

Ver. 13. His soul spends the night in good, and his seed possesses the land. The soul of the God-fearing man, is his own person in opposition to his posterity. To spend the night in good, is to enjoy an enduring prosperity. The second clause alludes to those passages in the law in which the Lord promises to His people lasting possession of Canaan, provided they continue in the fear of God: compare, for example, Exodus 20:12; Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28. While the ungodly, with their posterity, are rooted out from among their people, the promise is fulfilled to the godly and to their posterity who resemble them. ארץ , with the poetical omission of the article, stands for the land of Canaan. As the land is here used only as an example of individualizing designation for the Divine blessings attendant on faithfulness to the covenant, it is easy, without any fear of misunderstanding, to distinguish between the general substance of the thought,—viz., the enjoyment of Divine blessings, of salvation,—and its special Old Testament dress. Our Lord quotes the passage in this way in Matthew 5:5.

Verse 14

Ver. 14. The friendship of the Lord is with them that fear Him, and He makes known to them His covenant. At the first clause, compare Proverbs 3:32: “The ungodly is abomination to the Lord, but His intimate friendship is with the righteous,” סודו ; Job 29:4. The second clause, literally, “His covenant is in order to make known to them,” is “designed to be made known to them.” Comp. on the infinitive with ל , Ewald, p. 621, Sm. Gr. 544. Or it may be thus expounded: “His covenant is for the fearers of God, that He may make it known to them.” The making, known of the covenant is not inwardly; it takes place in matters of fact, through the events of their history, in which the covenant-relation is realized. Several expositors, in opposition to the parallelism, the connection, and usage, suppose the Psalmist to be speaking of insight into the meaning of the law.

Verse 15

Ver. 15. Mine eyes look always towards the Lord, for He takes my feet out of the net. Comp. Psalms 9:15.

Verse 16

Ver. 16. Turn Thyself to me, and be gracious to me; for I am lonely and miserable.

Verse 17

Ver. 17. The troubles of my heart they enlarge; bring me out of my distresses. צרה is, properly, “narrowness.” We cannot take הרחיבו in an intransitive sense. The many who oppress the Psalmist, stand over against the one from whom he can hope for deliverance. Substantially, the enemies and haters (comp. the ( Psalms 25:19) 19th verse) are the subject; but the circumstance that they are not named expressly as such, increases the emphasis. Everything had conspired against the Psalmist; compare יחיד of the preceding verse, out of which the subject is to be taken. Several interpreters, and lastly Hitzig, wish here to alter the text. They take the ו from the end of הרחיבו , and join it to the next clause, and point הַ רְ חִ יב : make wide the straitnesses of my heart. But one does not see how the more easy could ever be supplanted by the more difficult reading. There is in the mere description of the greatness of the trouble, in the first clause, a stronger cry to God for help, than if the cry had been at the same time expressed. The first clause of this verse corresponds exactly to the second of the preceding, and the second to the first. On an attentive consideration, it is obvious that this arbitrary alteration does not give a suitable sense, as the troubles do not admit of being enlarged.

Verse 18

Ver. 18. See my misery and suffering, and forgive all my sins. The ל is not the mark of the accusative, but is properly to be translated forgive: grant forgiveness to all my sins.

Verse 19

Ver. 19. See my enemies, for they are many, and they hate me with unrighteous hatred. If God once sees, He cannot but help: but that He should see and not further overlook, is rendered necessary from their great numbers and malicious wickedness.

Verse 20

Ver. 20. Keep my soul, and deliver me; let me not be ashamed, for I trust in Thee. Muis: “An excellent reason:—otherwise I should have trusted in Thee in vain. The glory of God demands that He help.”

Verse 21

Ver. 21. Blamelessness and uprightness shall preserve me, for I hope in Thee, who helpest the upright. Otherwise the expectation that salvation shall follow uprightness would be a foolish one. Luther: “Simple and right; i.e., that I am upright and without blame in my life.”

Verse 22

Ver. 22. Redeem, O God, Israel out of all his troubles. This verse, which Rosenmüller supposes to have been added at a later period, is obviously intended to be a closing verse, from the circumstance of its containing only one clause. It has this in common with the ( Psalms 25:1) 1st verse, which, in like manner, stands to a certain extent out of the alphabetical arrangement, as the ( Psalms 25:2) 2d verse also begins with א . The ( Psalms 25:1) 1st verse begins with א , that the Psalm might have, as it were, the signature of an alphabetical one on its forehead; and inasmuch as the א gets thus only a part of its rights, it has assigned to it the first word of the ( Psalms 25:2) 2d verse. The transition from the prayer, in regard to the necessities of the individual, to one on behalf of the whole Church, is all the more easy, that the Psalm throughout has no special application. There is a similar conclusion in Ps. 34:23.

Elohim, the general name of God, is used here, although Jehovah had been used throughout the Psalm, because Israel is destitute of all human help. The opposition which called this forth is distinctly expressed in the preceding context.

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Bibliographical Information
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Psalms 25". Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms.