Verse 26. "Arise for our help " - Show forth thy power in delivering us from the hands of our enemies.
Redeem us ] Ransom us from our thraldom.
"For thy mercies' sake. " - ūdsj [ml lemaan chasdecha, On account of thy mercy. That we may have that proper view of thy mercy which we should have, and that we may magnify it as we ought to do, redeem us.
The Vulgate has, Redime nos, propter nomen tuum, "Redeem us on account of thy name;" which the old Psalter thus paraphrases: "Help us in ryghtwysness, and by us (buy,) that es, delyver us, that we be withouten drede; and al this for thi name Jehsu; noght for oure merite."
ANALYSIS OF THE FORTY-FOURTH PSALM
In this Psalm are livelily expressed the sufferings, the complaints, the assurances, the petitions which are offered to God by good men, who suffer, together with others, in the common afflictions that God brings on his people.
The parts are two: - I. A petition from ver. 24-26.
II. The arguments by which the petition is quickened, ver. 1- 24.
First, He begins with the arguments, of which the first is drawn from God's goodness, of which he gives in particular, his benefits and miracles done for their fathers; as if he had said, "This thou didst for them; why art thou so estranged from us?" I. "We have heard with our ears, O God, and our fathers have told us what works thou didst in their days, and in the times of old." The particulars of which are: - 1. "How thou didst drive out the heathen," namely, the Canaanites.
2. "How thou plantedst them." 3. "How thou didst afflict the people, and cast them out," ver. 2.
II. This we acknowledge to be thy word; expressed thus: - 1. "How thou didst drive out the heathen;" negatively, by remotion of what some might imagine: "They got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither was it their own arm that helped them," ver. 3. "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name be the praise." 2. "How thou plantedst them;" positively: "For it was thy right hand and thy arm, and the light of thy countenance." A mere gratuito: "because thou hadst a favour unto them;" no other reason can be assigned but that, ver. 3.
3. Upon this consideration, by an apostrophe, he turns his speech to God, and sings a song of triumph, of which the strains are: - 1. An open confession: "Thou art my king, O God." 2. A petition: "Send help unto Jacob," ver. 4.
3. A confident persuasion of future victory; but still with God's help and assistance, ver. 5-7. 1. "Through thee will we push down our enemies." 2. "Through thee will we tread them under that rise up against us." All through thee; in thy name, by thy power.
4. An abrenunciation of his own power or arm: "For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me." 5. A reiteration, or a second ascription of the whole victory to God: "But thou hast saved us from our enemies; thou hast put them to shame that hated us," ver. 7.
6. A grateful return of thanks; which is indeed the tribute God expects, and which we are to pay upon our deliverance. "In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever." Secondly, The second argument by which he wings his petition is drawn from the condition which, for the present, God's people were in, before he had done wonders for their deliverance; but now he had delivered them to the will of their enemies. This would move a man to think that his good will was changed toward them: "But thou hast cast us off, and put us to shame, and goest not forth with our armies." Of which the consequences are many and grievous, although we acknowledge that all is from thee, and comes from thy hand and permission.
1. The first is: "Thou makest us to turn back from the enemy," ver. 10.
2. The second, We become a prey: "They which hate us spoil for themselves," ver. 10.
3. The third, We are devoured: "Thou hast given us as sheep appointed for meat;" killed cruelly, and when they please, ver. 11.
4. The fourth, We are driven from our country, and made to dwell where they will plant us: "Thou hast scattered us among the heathen; " (inter gentes,) and that is a great discomfort, to live among people without God in the world.
5. The fifth, We are become slaves, sold and bought as beasts; and that for any price, upon any exchange: "Thou sellest thy people for nought, and dost not increase thy wealth by their price," ver. 12; puts them off as worthless things.
6. The sixth, We are made a scorn, a mock; and to whom? To our enemies: but that might be borne; but even to our friends and neighbours: "Thou makest us a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us." And this he amplifies: - 1. From the circumstance that they are a proverb of reproach: "Thou makest us a byword among the heathen." That in scorn any one that would, used a scornful gesture toward them: "We are become a shaking of the head among the people." 3. That this insulting is continual: "My confusion is daily before me." 4. It is superlative; shame so great that he had not what to say to it: "The shame of my face hath covered me." 5. It is public; their words and gestures are not concealed; they speak out what they please: "Ashamed I am for the voice of him that reproacheth and blasphemeth; for the enemy and avenger." Thirdly, And yet he useth a third argument, that the petition may be the more grateful, and more easily granted; drawn from the constancy and perseverance of God's people in the profession of the truth, notwithstanding this heavy loss, persecution, and affliction: "All this is come upon us;" - thus we are oppressed, devoured, banished, sold, derided; yet we continue to be thy servants still, we retain our faith, hope, service.
1. We have not forgotten thee, not forgotten thou art our God. We acknowledge no idols.
2. We have not dealt falsely in thy covenant. We have not juggled in thy service, dealing with any side for our advantage, renouncing our integrity.
3. Our heart is not turned back. Our heart is upright, not turned back to the idols our fathers worshipped.
4. Our steps are not gone out of thy tray. Slip we may, but not revolt; no, not though great calamities are come upon us. 1. Broken. 2. Broken in the place of dragons, i.e., enemies fierce as dragons. 3. Though covered with the shadow of death. Now, that all this is true we call our God to witness, who knoweth the very secrets of the heart, and is able to revenge it: "We have not forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands," &c. "Shall not God search it out? for he knows the very secret of the heart." Fourthly. But the last argument is more pressing than the other three. It is not for any thing we have done to those that oppress us that we are thus persecuted by them; it is for thee, it is because we profess thy name, and rise up in defense of thy truth: "Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; for thy sake are we counted as sheep for the slaughter." The sum then is: Since thou hast been a good God to our fathers; since we suffered great things under bitter tyrants; since, notwithstanding all our sufferings, we are constant to thy truth since these our sufferings are for thee, for thy sake, thy truth; therefore awake, arise, help us, for upon these grounds he commences his petition.
II. This is the second part of the Psalm which begins at ver. 23, and continues to the end, in which petition there are these degrees:-
1. That God, who to flesh and blood, in the calamities of his Church, seems to sleep, would awake and put an end to their trouble: "Awake why sleepest thou, O Lord," ver. 23.
2. That he would arise and judge their cause, and not seem to neglect them as abjects: "Arise cast us not off for ever," ver. 23.
3. That he would show them some favour, and not seem to forget their miseries: "Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and forgettest our affliction and oppression?" 4. Lastly, That he would be their helper, and actually deliver them: "Arise for our help, and redeem us for thy mercies' sake." And that this petition might be the sooner and more readily granted, he briefly repeats the second argument: "For our soul is bowed down to the dust, our belly cleaveth to the earth," ver. 25. Brought we are as low as low may be, even to the dust, to death, to the grave.