3. Behold, [or look upon me,] answer me, O Jehovah my God; enlighten mine eyes, lest I sleep in death; 4. Lest my enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those who afflict me rejoice if I should fall.
3. Look upon me, answer me. As when God does not promptly afford assistance to his servants, it seems to the eye of sense that he does not behold their necessities, David, for this reason, asks God, in the first place, to look upon him, and, in the second place, to succor him. Neither of these things, it is true, is prior or posterior in respect of God; but it has been already stated in a preceding psalm, and we will have occasion afterwards frequently to repeat the statement, that the Holy Spirit purposely accommodates to our understanding the models of prayer recorded in Scripture. If David had not been persuaded that God had his eyes upon him, it would have availed him nothing to cry to God; but this persuasion was the effect of faith. In the meantime, until God actually puts forth his hand to give relief, carnal reason suggests to us that he shuts his eyes, and does not behold us. The manner of expression here employed amounts to the same thing as if he had put the mercy of God in the first place, and then added to it his assistance, because God then hears us, when, having compassion upon us, he is moved and induced to succor us. To enlighten the eyes signifies the same thing in the Hebrew language as to give the breath of life, for the rigour of life appears chiefly in the eyes. In this sense Solomon says,
"The poor and the deceitful man meet together; the Lord lighteneth both their eyes." (Proverbs 29:13)
And when Jonathan fainted for hunger, the sacred history relates that his eyes were overcast with dimness; and again, that when he had tasted of the honeycomb, his eyes were enlightened, (1 Samuel 14:27.) The word sleep, as it is used in this passage, is a metaphor of a similar kind, being put for death. In short, David confesses, that unless God cause the light of life to shine upon him, he will be immediately overwhelmed with the darkness of death, and that he is already as a man without life, unless God breathe into him new vigor. And certainly our confidence of life depends on this, that although the world may threaten us with a thousand deaths, yet God is possessed of numberless means of restoring us to life.1
4. Lest my enemy. David again repeats what he had a little before said concerning the pride of his enemies, namely, how it would be a thing ill becoming the character of God were he to abandon his servant to the mockery of the ungodly. David's enemies lay, as it were, in ambush watching the hour of his ruin, that they might deride him when they saw him fall. And as it is the peculiar office of God to repress the audacity and insolence of the wicked, as often as they glory in their wickedness, David beseeches God to deprive them of the opportunity of indulging in such boasting. It is, however, to be observed, that he had in his conscience a sufficient testimony to his own integrity, and that he trusted also in the goodness of his cause, so that it would have been unbecoming and unreasonable had he been left without succor in danger, and had he been overwhelmed by his enemies. We can, therefore, with confidence pray for ourselves, in the manner in which David here does for himself, only when we fight under the standard of God, and are obedient to his orders, so that our enemies cannot obtain the victory over us without wickedly triumphing over God himself.