16. Who will rise up for me against my adversaries? who will stand up for me 1 against the workers of iniquity? 17. Unless Jehovah had been my help, my soul had well nigh dwelt in silence. 2 18. If I said, My foot has fallen, thy kindness, O Jehovah! has held me up. 3 19. In the multitude of my thoughts, 4 thy comforts within me delight my soul. 5
16. Who will rise up for me against my adversaries? Here the Psalmist points out, in a lively and graphic manner, how destitute he was of all human aid. As if at the moment in danger, he cries out -- Who will stand up for me? Who will oppose himself to my enemies? And immediately afterwards he replies, that had not God helped him, he must have despaired of safety. In declaring that he had been thus miraculously rescued from death, when deserted by all the world, he commends the more God's kindness and grace. When men aid us, they are only instruments by which the grace of God works; but we are apt not to recognize God's hand when we see any subordinate agency in the deliverance. He speaks of his life dwelling in silence, (verse 17) for the dead lie in the grave without feeling or strength. Thus the Psalmist owns that there was no means by which his life could have been preserved, had not God interposed without delay.
18. If I said, My foot has fallen. What is said in this verse confirms the preceding statement. The more to commend God's kindness and power, he declares that it was no common danger from which he had been rescued, but in a manner from present death. The import of the language is, that death stared him so full in view, that he despaired of himself; as Paul speaks of having had the message of death in himself, when his condition was desperate, and he had given up hope of life, (2 Corinthians 1:9.) The fact of the Psalmist having been delivered after he had considered death certain, made the Divine interposition the more conspicuous. If we understand him as speaking of temporal death only in the expression, My foot has fallen -- there is nothing unaccountable in the circumstance of his having despaired, 6 as God often prolongs the life of his people in the world, when they had lost hope, and were preparing for their departure. Possibly, however, the Psalmist only means that this was the language of sense; and this is the more probable, because we have already seen that he never ceased praying to God -- a proof that he had still some hope. The next verse affords still further proof, for there he tells us that his afflictions were always mixed with some comfort. By thoughts, he means anxious and perplexing cares, which would have overwhelmed him had not consolation been communicated to him from above. We learn this truth from the passage, That God interposes in behalf of his people, with a due regard to the magnitude of their trials and distresses, and at the very moment which is necessary, enlarging them in their straits, as we find stated in other places. The heavier our calamities grow, we should hope that Divine grace will only be the more powerfully manifested in comforting us under them, (Psalm 4:1; 118:5,) But should we through weakness of the flesh be vexed and tormented by anxious cares, we must be satisfied with the remedy which the Psalmist here speaks of in such high terms. Believers are conscious of two very different states of mind. On the one hand, they are afflicted and distressed with various fears and anxieties; on the other, there is a secret joy communicated to them from above, and this in accommodation to their necessity, so as to preserve them from being swallowed up by any complication or force of calamity which may assail them.
"In the multitude of my anxieties within me,
Thy comforts cheered my soul."
And he observes, "The original word wesesy signifies 'to cause to leap or dance for joy;' but the English language will not bear an application of this image to the soul; though we say, 'to make the heart leap for joy.'"