22. And I said in my fear1 I am cast out of thy sight: yet truly thou hast heard the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee. 23. O love Jehovah, all ye his meek ones! Jehovah preserveth the faithful, and plentifully2 recompenseth him who behaveth himself proudly. 24. Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye who hope in Jehovah.
22. And I said in my fear. David here confesses that for his distrust he deserved to be deserted by God and left to perish. It is true that to confess this before men he felt to be a shameful thing; but that he may the more fully illustrate the grace of God to him, he hesitates not to publish the shame of his fault. He repeats almost the same acknowledgement in Psalm 116:11, "I said in my haste, All men are liars." I am aware that the Hebrew word zpx, chaphaz, is explained by some as meaning flight; as if David, in fleeing from death, because he was unable to make resistance, was stricken with this fear. But I refer it rather to his trouble of mind. Whether, therefore, we translate it haste or fear, it means that he had been, as it were, carried headlong to entertain the thought that he was neglected by God. And this haste is opposed to calm and deliberate consideration; for although David was stricken with fear, he did not faint under the trial, and this persuasion did not continue fixed in his mind. For we know that the faithful are often disquieted by fears and the heat of impatience, or driven headlong as it were by their too hasty or precipitate wishes, but afterwards they come to themselves. That David's faith had never been overthrown by this temptation appears from the context, for he immediately adds, that God had heard the voice of his supplications; but if his faith had been extinguished, he could not have brought his mind earnestly to engage in prayer, and therefore this complaint was only a lapse of the tongue uttered in haste. Now if peevish hastiness of thought could drive this holy prophet of God, a man who was adorned with so many excellencies, to despair, how much reason have we to fear, lest our minds should fail and fatally ruin us? This confession of David, as we have already observed, serves to magnify the grace of God; but at the same time he sufficiently shows, in the second clause of the verse, that his faith, although severely shaken, had not been altogether eradicated, because he ceased not meanwhile to pray. The saints often wrestle in this manner with their distrust, that partly they may not despond, and that partly they may gather courage and stimulate themselves to prayer. Nor does the weakness of the flesh, even when they are almost overthrown, hinder them from showing that they are unwearied and invincible champions before God. But although David stoutly resisted temptation, he nevertheless acknowledges himself unworthy of God's grace, of which he in some measure deprived himself by his doubt. For the Hebrew particle Nka, aken, is here to be understood adversatively and rendered yet, intimating that David had been preserved without any desert of his own, inasmuch as God's immeasurable goodness strove with his unbelief. But as it is a sign of affirmation in Hebrew, I have thought proper to translate it, Yet truly. I have no doubt that he opposes his language to the various temptations with which, it is probable, his mind had been driven hither and thither.
23. O love Jehovah, all ye his meek ones! In my opinion, the Psalmist does not here exhort the saints to fear and reverence God, as many think, but encourages them to confide in him; or, in other words, to devote themselves wholly to him, to put all their hope in him, and to rely entirely upon him, without seeking to any other. Whence is it that our own fond devices delight us, but because we do not delight in God so much as we ought, and because our affections do not cleave to him? This love of God, therefore, comprehends in it all the desires of the heart. By nature, all men greatly desire to be in a prosperous or happy state; but while the greater number are fascinated by the allurements of the world, and prefer its lies and impostures, scarcely one in a hundred sets his heart on God. The reason which immediately follows confirms this interpretation; for the inspired Psalmist exhorts the meek to love God, because he preserves the faithful, which is as if he had desired them to rest satisfied with his guardianship, and to acknowledge that in it they had sufficient succor.3 In the meantime, he admonishes them to keep a good conscience, and to cultivate uprightness, since God promises to preserve only such as are upright and faithful. On the other hand, he declares that he plentifully recompenses the proud, in order that when we observe them succeeding prosperously for a time, an unworthy emulation may not entice us to imitate them, and that their haughtiness, and the outrage they commit, while they think they are at liberty to do what they please, may not crush and break our spirits. The amount of the whole is this, Although the ungodly flatter themselves, while they proceed in their wickedness with impunity, and believers are harassed with many fears and dangers, yet devote yourselves to God, and rely upon his grace, for he will always defend the faithful, and reward the proud as they deserve. Concerning the meaning of the Hebrew word rtyale, al-yether, which we have rendered plentifully,4 interpreters are not agreed. Some translate it pride, meaning that to those who behave themselves proudly, God will render according to their pride; others translate it to overflowing, or beyond measure, because rty, yether, signifies in Hebrew residue or remnant; instead of which I have translated it plentifully. Some understand it as extending to their children and children's children, who shall remain the residue of their seed. Besides, as the same word is frequently used for excellence,5 I have no doubt that the prophet elegantly rebukes the proud, who imagine that their fancied excellence is not only a shield to them, but, an invincible fortress against God. As their groundless authority and power blind, or rather bewitch them, so that they vaunt themselves intemperately and without measure against those who are lowly and feeble, the prophet elegantly says that there is a reward in store for them proportioned to the haughtiness with which they are puffed up.
24. Be of good courage. This exhortation is to be understood in the same way as the preceding; for the steadfastness which the Psalmist here enjoins is founded on the love of God of which he had spoken, when renouncing all the enticements of the world, we embrace with our whole hearts the defense and protection which he promises to us. Nor is his exhortation to courage and firmness unnecessary; because, when any one begins to rely on God, he must lay his account with and arm himself for sustaining many assaults from Satan. We are first, then, calmly to commit ourselves to the protection and guardianship of God, and to endeavor to have the experience of his goodness pervading our whole minds. Secondly, thus furnished with steady firmness and unfailing strength, we are to stand prepared to sustain every day new conflicts. As no man, however, is able of himself to sustain these conflicts, David urges us to hope for and ask the spirit of fortitude from God, a matter particularly worthy of our notice. For hence we are taught, that when the Spirit of God puts us in mind of our duty, he examines not what each man's ability is, nor does he measure men's services by their own strength, but stimulates us rather to pray and beseech God to correct our defects, as it is he alone who can do this.