7. Make marvellous thy mercies, O thou preserver of those who trust [in thee,1] from those that exalt themselves against thy right hand. 8. Keep me as the apple, the daughter of the eye2 hide me in the shadow of thy wings. 9. From the face of the ungodly, who go about to destroy me; and of mine enemies, who besiege [or encompass] my soul.
7. Make marvellous thy mercies. As the word hlph, haphleh, signifies sometimes to make wonderful, or remarkable, and sometimes to separate and set apart, both these senses will be very suitable to this passage. In Psalm 31:19, the "goodness" of God is said to be "laid up" in store as a peculiar treasure "for them that fear him," that he may bring it forth at the proper season, even when they are brought to an extremity, and when all things seem to be desperate. If, then, the translation, separate and set apart thy mercy, is preferred, the words are a prayer that God would display towards his servant David the special grace which he communicates to none but his chosen ones. While God involves both the good and the bad in danger indiscriminately, he at length shows, by the different issue of things, in regard to the two classes, that he does not confusedly mingle the chaff and the wheat together, seeing he gathers his own people into a company by themselves, (Matthew 3:12, and Matthew 25:32.) I, however, prefer following another exposition. David, in my judgment, perceiving that he could only be delivered from the perilous circumstances in which he was placed by singular and extraordinary means, betakes himself to the wonderful or miraculous power of God. Those who think he desires God to withhold his grace from his persecutors do too great violence to the scope of the passage. By this circumstance there is expressed the extreme danger to which David was exposed; for otherwise it would have been enough for him to have been succoured in the ordinary and common way in which God is accustomed daily to favor and to aid his own people. The grievousness of his distress, therefore, constrained him to beseech God to work miraculously for his deliverance. The title with which he here honors God, O thou preserver of those who trust [in thee,] serves to confirm him in the certain hope of obtaining his requests. As God takes upon him the charge of saving all who confide in him, David being one of their number, could upon good ground assure himself of safety and deliverance. Whenever, therefore, we approach God, let the first thought impressed on our minds be, that as he is not in vain called the preserver of those who trust in him, we have no reason whatever to be afraid of his not being ready to succor us, provided our faith continue firmly to rely upon his grace. And if every way of deliverance is shut up, let us also at the same time remember that he is possessed of wonderful and inconceivable means of succouring us, which serve so much the more conspicuously to magnify and manifest his power. But as the participle trusting, or hoping, is put without any additional word expressing the object of this trust or hope,3 some interpreters connect it with the last words of the verse, thy right hand, as if the order of the words were inverted. They, therefore, resolve them thus, O thou preserver of those who trust in thy right hand, from those who rise up against them. As this, however, is harsh and strained, and the exposition which I have given is more natural, and more generally received,4 let us follow it. To express, therefore, the meaning in one sentence, the Psalmist attributes to God the office of defending and preserving his own people from all the ungodly who rise up to assault them, and who, if it were in their power, would destroy them. And the ungodly are here said to exalt themselves against the hand of God, because, in molesting the faithful whom God has taken under his protection, they openly wage war against him. The doctrine contained in these words, namely, that when we are molested, an outrage is committed upon God in our person, is a very profitable one; for having once declared himself to be the guardian and protector of our welfare, whenever we are unjustly assailed, he puts forth his hand before us as a shield of defense.
The two similitudes which David has subjoined in the following verse, respecting the apple of the eye, and the little birds which the mother keeps under her wings,5 are introduced for illustrating the same subject. God, to express the great care which he has of his own people, compares himself to a hen and other fowls, which spread out their wings to cherish and cover their young, and declares them to be no less dear to him than the apple of the eye, which is the tenderest part of the body, is to man; it follows, therefore, that whenever men rise up to molest and injure the righteous, war is waged against him. As this form of prayer was put into the mouth of David by the Holy Spirit, it is to be regarded as containing in it a promise. We have here presented to our contemplation a singular and an astonishing proof of the goodness of God, in humbling himself so far, and in a manner so to speak, transforming himself, in order to lift up our faith above the conceptions of the flesh.
9. From the face of the ungodly. The Psalmist, by again accusing his enemies, intends to set forth his own innocence, as an argument for his obtaining the favor of God. At the same time, he complains of their cruelty, that God may be the more inclined to aid him. First, he says that they burn with an enraged desire to waste and to destroy him; secondly, he adds, that they besiege him in his soul, by which he means, that they would never rest satisfied until they had accomplished his death. The greater, therefore, the terror with which we are stricken by the cruelty of our enemies, the more ought we to be quickened to ardor in prayer. God, indeed, does not need to receive information and incitement from us; but the use and the end of prayer is, that the faithful, by freely declaring to God the calamities and sorrows which oppress them, and in disburdening them, as it were, into his bosom, may be assured beyond all doubt that he has a regard to their necessities.