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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

Psalms 28

Verses 1-9

INTRODUCTION

Hitsig and others have assigned this psalm to Jeremiah, but there does not seem to be thy sufficient reason for questioning the traditional title which gives it to David. It may have been composed before he became king in Jerusalem, or at the time of Absalom’s rebellion. It consists of two divisions. After earnestly entreating audience (Psalms 28:1-2), the psalmist prays that he may not be confounded with the wicked in their just punishment (Psalms 28:3-5). He then gives thanks for anticipated deliverance, and ends with a catholic prayer for the blessing of God upon all His people (Psalms 28:6-9). There are points of resemblance between this psalm and the two preceding.

THE INSTINCTS OF THE HEART

This psalm may be held to express the deepest feelings of the heart.

I. The sense of dependence upon God (Psalms 28:1). This “cry” is common. It expresses dependence. It is founded on the relation of the soul to God. The creature cries to the Creator, the subject cries to the sovereign, the sinner cries to the Saviour. In want and peril; when burdened with sorrow, and when bowed to the dust under the sense of sin and the fear of death, the soul instinctively, turns to God for relief.

“My Rock” (cf. Psalms 18:2; Psalms 31:2; Psalms 42:9). There is everything in God to meet the needs of His people. If they are weak, with Him is everlasting strength. If all things “under the sun” are liable to change, He is “the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” How sweet it is to say unto God “my Rock.” This gives confidence in life and in death. Said a dying saint (the Rev. John Rees), “Christ in His person, Christ in the love of His heart, and Christ in the power of His arm, is the rock on which I rest; and now” (reclining his head gently on the pillow), “Death, strike.”

II. Craving for fellowship with God.

The more we love a friend, the more strongly we seek his presence, and the more deeply do we deplore his estrangement and silence.
Here,

1. God’s silence is deprecated as the greatest evil. Many feel no concern whether their prayers are heard or not. Mere formalists. Not so the psalmist. For God to be silent to him, was terrible. It left him without resource and hope; it seemed the closing in upon him of the “blackness of darkness,” of the grave or of hell. He shrinks from such a doom, as an unspeakable horror. Hence his passionate cry, “Be not silent to me,” &c. (“the pit” cf. Psalms 22:29; Psalms 30:3; Isaiah 14:19, Ezekiel 26:20).

2. God’s fellowship sought as the greatest good (Psalms 28:2). Humbly. The lifting up of the hands is the symbolism of prayer (Exodus 9:29, 1 Kings 8:22). It expresses the desire of the humble, the reaching forth of the heart to God. Earnestly. “The earnestness of the cry is to be measured, not only by the greatness of the peril which is threatened, but by the faith which cleaves to God, knowing that in Him only is there help.”—Perowne. “When I cry,” that is now, at once, while I am speaking. Importunately. It is a matter of life and death. “Supplications.” This word, being in the plural, shows the persistence and constancy of the good in prayer. Through faith in the mercy of God. “Holy Oracle,” “This is the Holy of Holies, where the mercy seat stood;” for the “Oracle” is, in Hebrew, the spot where Jehovah spoke to men, referring probably to His promise in Exodus 25:22, “There will I meet thee, and commune with thee.”—Bonar. “To this, as the depositary of the ark and the earthly residence of God, the ancient saints looked, as we look now to Christ, in whom the idea of the Mosaic sanctuary has been realised.”—Alexander. “We stretch out empty hands, for we are beggars; we lift them up, for we seek heavenly supplies; we lift them towards the mercy-seat of Jesus, for there our expectation dwells.”—Spurgeon. God’s fellowship is the life and joy of the soul. We want, not so much what He gives, as Himself.

III. Confidence in the eternal justice of God. This world is not left to chance, or blind fate, or mere arbitrary will. It is governed by a power that maketh for righteousness. This has been the faith of the good in all ages.

“If this fail,

The pillared firmament is rottenness,
And earth’s base built on stubble.”—Milton.

Hence, there is room for prayer (Psalms 28:3-5). First, deliverance is sought from the doom of the wicked. “Draw me not away,” i.e., to destruction with them (Exodus 32:20; Job 24:22; Psalms 26:9). “The wicked, the workers of iniquity, and the deceivers, are three terms for the unrighteous, referring to the heart, the hand, and the tongue.”—Murphy. The good man shrinks from such company. He appeals confidently to God, not to confound the just with the unjust. Next, Retribution is craved (Psalms 28:4). This implies their obstinate impenitency. Reason, conscience, and revelation proclaim that for such there can be no escape. There may be delay, there may be seeming inequality and failure, but retribution must come in the end, to the uttermost. The faith of the psalmist rises to prophetic certainty. There is nothing of mere human passion and animosity. “The reason why God’s judgments should overtake the wicked, is not their malice against the psalmist, but their disregard of the Most High.”—Perowne.

IV. Gratitude for the Goodness of God. Prayer leads to praise. The full heart bursts into song. “Blessed be the Lord!” For answered prayers (Psalms 28:6). Perhaps the very thing asked was granted, or something better given instead. Answered prayers demand acknowledgment. For assistance in time of need (Psalms 28:7). “My strength,” internal. “My shield,” external. The former includes all needful grace to enlighten, renew, and sanctify. The latter implies help and defence against every foe. How complete is the security of the people of God!

For assurance of hope. “The certainty that prayer is heard anticipates visible fulfilment.”—Perowne. “My heart trusteth in Him.” This flows from the “strength,” and wins the “shield.” Twice over he says “my heart,” not only showing the sincerity, but the strength and intensity of his gratitude. “With (lit. ‘out of’) my song,” the song being, as it were, the source and the occasion of his praise (Psalms 22:25). “He who enjoys aught without thanksgiving, is as though he robbed God.”—Talmud.

V. Exulting Joy in the Saving Strength of God (Psalms 28:8). Every believer is, like Paul, “a pattern.” What God does for one, He is able to do for all. The attention is fixed upon Him as an Almighty and All-Merciful Saviour. “The Lord is their strength,” i.e., of yonder ones, of such as possess the character already described (cf. Psalms 119:9-11; Isaiah 33:2).

“He is the saving strength of His anointed.” “First the people, then Himself their monarch, but not David the man, but David the king as anointed of God, and chosen to feed His people.”—Perowne. Strength that is rightly used, to help and not to oppress, to save and not to destroy, commands admiration. Here is the glory of the gospel. It is the power of God unto salvation. Christ came not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “Let the children of Zion be joyful in their king.”

VI. Trust in the ultimate triumph and blessedness of God’s people (Psalms 28:9). “It is impossible not to see, in these tender loving words, ‘feed them, and bear them,’ the heart of the Shepherd-King. Feed them, O Thou true Shepherd of Israel (Psalms 80:1); bear them, carry them in Thine arms (Isaiah 63:9; Isaiah 40:11). Perhaps the reference may be to Deuteronomy 1:31; Deuteronomy 32:11.”—Perowne.

Mark, as to the good.

1. Their character. “Thy people.”

2. Their privilege. “Thine inheritance” (Deuteronomy 4:20; Ephesians 1:16).

3. Their destiny. “Save” from sin. “Bless” with the fruits of righteousness. “Feed” with the bread of life. “Lift” with the arm of the Lord to the dignity and blessedness of heaven. This prayer breathes throughout the most Catholic spirit. It is akin to that of Paul (Ephesians 3:14-19).

This prayer expresses also the most delightful confidence. It looks to the future with hope. It sees a good time coming, and is glad, with foretaste of the joy. What an inspiration to all who pray and work.

“Ah! when shall all men’s good

Be each man’s rule, and universal peace
Lie like a shaft of light across the land,
And like a lane of beams athwart the sea,
Thro’ all the circle of the golden year.”

Tennyson.

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Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Psalms 28". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/phc/psalms-28.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.