12. Thy vows are upon me, O God! I will pay thy praises. 13. For thou hast delivered my soul from death: hast thou not delivered my feet from falling headlong? that I may walk before God in the light of the living.
12. Thy vows are upon me, O God! I hinted, from the outset, that it is probable this psalm was written by David after he had escaped the dangers which he describes; and this may account for the thanksgiving here appended to it. At the same time, we have evidence that he was ever ready to engage in this exercise even when presently suffering under his afflictions. He declares that the vows of God were upon him; by which he means, that he was bound to pay them, as, among the Romans, a person who had obtained what he sought, under engagement of a vow, was said to be voti damnatus -- condemned of his vow. If we have promised thanks, and our prayers have been heard, an obligation is contracted. He calls them the vows of God -- thy vows; for the money in my hand may be said to be my creditor's, being, as I am, in his debt. He views his deliverance as having come from God; and the condition having been performed, he acknowledges himself to be burdened with the vows which he had contracted. We learn from the second part of the verse what was the nature of the vows to which he adverts, and, by attending to this, may preserve ourselves from the mistake of imagining that he sanctions any such vows as those which are practiced among Papists. He says that he would render praises, or sacrifices of praise; for the word is applied to sacrifices, which were the outward symbols of thanksgiving. David knew well that God attached no value to sacrifices considered in themselves, or irrespectively of the design and spirit of the person offering them; but we may believe that he would not neglect the sacred ceremonies of the Law which was imposed upon the Church at that time; and that he speaks of some solemn expression of gratitude, such as was customary among the Jews upon the reception of a signal Divine favor.
13. For thou hast delivered my soul from death. This confirms the truth of the remark which I have already made, that he considered his life as received from the hands of God, his destruction having been inevitable but for the miraculous preservation which he had experienced. To remove all doubt upon that subject, he speaks of having been preserved, not simply from the treachery, the malice, or the violence of his enemies, but from death itself. And the other form of expression which he employs conveys the same meaning, when he adds, that God had kept him back with his hand when he was on the eve of rushing headlong into destruction. Some translate yxdm, middechi, from falling; but the word denotes here a violent impulse. Contemplating the greatness of his danger, he considers his escape as nothing less than miraculous. It is our duty, when rescued from any peril, to retain in our recollection the circumstances of it, and all which rendered it peculiarly formidable. During the time that we are exposed to it, we are apt to err through an excessive apprehension; but when it is over, we too readily forget both our fears and the Divine goodness manifested in our deliverance. To walk in the light of the living means nothing else than to enjoy the vital light of the sun. The words, before God, which are interjected in the verse, point to the difference between the righteous, who make God the great aim of their life, and the wicked, who wander from the right path and turn their back upon God.