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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 71

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2981. B.C. 1023.

This Psalm, being without a title, and very similar to the former, is thought by many to be a continuation of it. The author acknowledges the continued series of God’s goodness to him, even from his birth, and implores him not to leave him now in his old age to the malice of his enemies, but to grant him his protection. Toward the end he is assured of this, and at length obtains it, and praises God for it. So that we have here,

(1,) A prayer, Psalms 71:1-13 .

(2,) Joyful praise and thanksgiving, Psalms 71:14-24 . The Jews, who were carried captive into Babylon, with King Joachim, made use of this Psalm, as appears from the title of the Vulgate, and the LXX. See Psalms 31:0 .

Verses 1-3

Psalms 71:1-3. In thee, O Lord, &c. See notes on Psalms 31:1. Thou hast given commandment to save me By which he understands God’s purpose and promise, and his providence watching to execute them, all which are as powerful as a command.

Verse 7

Psalms 71:7. I am a wonder to many Hebrew, כמופת , chemopeth, as a prodigy, or monster, that is, as a frightful spectacle, which they are afraid to come near. Green renders it, as a gazing-stock to the multitude. This David was, on account of his many and sore calamities, and perhaps, also, because of his firm trust in God amidst them all; as if he had said, Every one waits to see what will be the issue of such extraordinary troubles as I have fallen into, and such extraordinary confidence as I profess to have in God. But thou art my sure refuge But, although men desert me, and look with suspicion and contempt on me, God is a sure refuge for me. “David, banished from his kingdom,” says Dr. Horne, “was regarded as a wonder, or prodigy of wretchedness; Christ, in his state of humiliation upon earth, was a sign everywhere spoken against, as Simeon foretold he would be, Luke 2:34. The Christian, who lives by faith, who quits possession for reversion, and who chooses to suffer with his Saviour here, that he may reign with him hereafter, appears to the men of the world as a monster of folly and enthusiasm. But God is the strong refuge of all such.”

Verses 8-11

Psalms 71:8-11 . Let my mouth be filled with thy praise Give me occasion to multiply praises to thee for delivering me out of my present distress. Cast me not off in my old age When I am most feeble, and most need thy help, and am one that is grown old in thy service. For mine enemies lay wait for my soul, &c. Hebrew, שׁמרי נפשׁי , shomree naphshi, the watchers, or observers, of my soul That watch, that they may find occasion to take away my life, and that I may not escape out of their hands; take counsel together Combine their powers and policies to destroy me. Saying, God hath forsaken him For his many acts of wickedness, as is manifest, because the hearts of all Israel are turned from him, and his own heart fails him. Persecute him, and take him Let us pursue him closely now, and we shall certainly take him; for he has not forces sufficient to withstand us, and deliver him out of our hands.

Verses 14-16

Psalms 71:14-16. But I will hope continually Although in the greatest straits and difficulties; and will yet praise thee more and more For which I know thou wilt yet give me abundant occasion. My mouth shall show forth thy righteousness Thy truth, justice, and mercy, manifested in all thy dispensations toward me; and thy salvation Temporal and spiritual, wrought out for me; all the day long It shall be the subject of all my songs, and my continual employment to publish it abroad. For I know not the number thereof Of the instances in which thou hast manifested thy righteousness, that is, thy mercy and truth in delivering me. I will go I will not sit down in despair, but I will go on in my work and warfare; in the strength of the Lord God Relying, not on any strength of my own, or any efforts I can make, but disclaiming my own sufficiency, and depending on God only as all-sufficient: looking to and trusting in his providence and grace. Observe, reader, we must always go about God’s work in his strength, having our eyes up unto him, to work in us both to will and to do. I will make mention of thy righteousness Of thy mercy and goodness; or, rather, of thy faithfulness in making good all thy promises, of thy equity in all thy dispensations, and of thy kindness to thy people that trust in thee. Of this righteousness, including these thy perfections, I will make mention, partly to praise and celebrate it, and partly to support and comfort myself with the remembrance of it, and what it implies.

Verse 17

Psalms 71:17. O God, thou hast taught me from my youth By the instruction of my parents, by thy word and Spirit enlightening and convincing me, and also by my own experience, namely, concerning thy righteousness last mentioned, the wondrous effects whereof I have received and declared from time to time. Observe here, reader, as it is a great blessing to be taught of God from our youth, from our childhood to know the Holy Scriptures, and the important truths revealed, the privileges exhibited, and the duties inculcated therein; so those that have been favoured and received good in this way, when they were young, must be doing good when they are grown up, and must continue to communicate what they have received.

Verse 18

Psalms 71:18. Now also when I am old, &c., forsake me not Do not abandon the care of me when I need it most: but continue the same kindness to me in my declining years which I experienced when I was a youth. Those that have been taught of God from their youth, and have made it the business of their lives to honour him, may be sure he will not leave them when they are old and gray-headed, will not leave them helpless and comfortless, but will make the evil days of old age their best days, and such as they shall have reason to say they have pleasure in. Until I have showed thy strength By my own experience of its being exerted in fresh instances in my behalf; unto this generation To which I owe peculiar duties, and which I desire to serve according to thy will, Acts 13:36; and thy power to every one that is to come To all future generations, by leaving my observations upon it on record for their benefit. Thus, as David acknowledges that “it was the God of Israel who taught him, as a warrior, to conquer, and as a psalmist, to declare the wondrous works of his great benefactor; so he requests to be preserved in his old age, until, by completing his victories, and his Psalms composed to celebrate them, he had showed the strength and power of God,” not only to his cotemporaries, “but to all that should arise in after times, and chant those divine hymns in the assemblies of the faithful, throughout all ages.” In like manner, “if St. Paul wish to have his life continued on earth, it is only that he may edify the church and glorify God. Otherwise it is far better, says he, to depart and be with Christ.” Horne. In imitation of these, and such like excellent examples, as long as we live we ought to be endeavouring to glorify God, and edify one another; and those that have had the largest and longest experience of the goodness of God to them, should improve their experience for the good of their friends. And it is a debt which the old disciples of Christ owe to the succeeding generations, to leave behind them a solemn testimony to the power, and pleasure, and advantage of religion, and the truth of God’s promises.

Verse 19

Psalms 71:19 . Thy righteousness also is very high Most eminent and evident, as high things are; and that which thou hast in righteousness done for thy people is very great. God’s righteousness, here intended, includes the rectitude of his nature; the equity of his providential dispensations; the righteous laws which he hath given us to be ruled by; the righteous promises he hath given us to depend upon; and the everlasting righteousness which his Son hath brought in, by his obedience unto death, for our justification.

Verses 20-21

Psalms 71:20-21. Thou, who hast showed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again I never was in such straits and distresses, (and yet I have been in such as were very great and sore,) but I found relief in thee; and therefore I doubt not but thou wilt now revive and restore me, though all men give me up for lost. And shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth That is, from the grave; for I am like one dead and buried, and past all hope of deliverance, without thy almighty help. Or, rather, it is an allusion to men who are fallen into a deep pit of water; and the meaning is, Thou shalt draw me out of the extreme danger in which I am plunged, and wherein I should perish without thy aid. Thou shalt increase my greatness Nay, thou wilt not only restore me to my former greatness, but much augment the splendour of it; and comfort me on every side And though I now seem forsaken by thee, thou wilt return again, and so surround me by thy favour, that my future comforts shall far exceed my present troubles.

Verses 22-24

Psalms 71:22-24. I will also praise thee, &c. And then surely I shall be no less forward to bless thee than thou art to bestow thy benefits on me. My lips shall greatly rejoice, and my soul, &c. It is not possible to express the joy wherewith, not merely my lips, but my heart and soul shall sing triumphant songs for the extraordinary deliverance which I expect from thee. My tongue also shall talk of thy righteousness all the day long Which shall not only be the subject of my solemn songs, but of my constant discourse; wherein I will perpetually magnify thy goodness and truth toward me, and thy just vengeance upon mine enemies. How much more is “the truth of God, in accomplishing his promises, by the redemption of our souls, and the confusion of our spiritual enemies, a subject which demands a never ceasing tribute of gratitude and love, of praise and thanksgiving. To celebrate it aright, with the melody of voices and affections, all in perfect concord, is the duty and delight of the church militant; which, when thus employed, affords the best resemblance of the church triumphant.” Horne.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 71". Benson's Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/psalms-71.html. 1857.
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