Psalm 116:10-11

10. I have believed, therefore I will speak; 1I am afflicted very sore. 11. I said in my fear, Every man is a liar. 2


10. I have believed. That his wonderful deliverance may appear the more conspicuous, he again relates the imminent danger in which he had been placed. He begins by declaring that he spake in the true sincerity of his heart, and that nothing proceeded from his lips but what was the fruit of long reflection, and mature deliberation. Such is the import of the clause, I have believed, therefore I will speak; words which proceed from the full affection of the heart. In 2 Corinthians 4:13, Paul, quoting this passage, follows the Greek version, "I believed, therefore I have spoken." I have elsewhere remarked that it was not the design of the apostles to repeat every word and syllable; it is enough for us that the words of David are appropriately applied in their proper and natural sense to the subject to which Paul there refers. Having referred indirectly to the Corinthians, who were exalting themselves above the clouds, as if they had been exempted from the common lot of mankind, "I believed " says he, "and therefore I have spoken, that he who hath once raised Christ from the dead, will also extend Christ's life to us;" that is, I believe, and therefore I speak. Thus he charges the Corinthians with being inflated with foolish pride, because they do not humbly submit to the cross of Christ; especially as they ought to speak in the exercise of the same spirit of faith with himself. The particle yk, ki, which we translate therefore, is by some Hebrew interpreters understood as a disjunctive particle; but the more correct meaning, and which is supported by the best scholars, is, I will speak nothing but the sentiments of my heart. The drift of the passage, too, requires this; namely, that the external professions of the lips correspond with the internal feelings of the heart: for many talk inconsiderately, and utter what never entered into their hearts. "Let no person imagine that I employ unmeaning or exaggerated terms; what I speak, the same I have truly believed." From this we learn the useful doctrine, that faith cannot remain inoperative in the heart, but that it must, of necessity, manifest itself. Here the Holy Spirit unites, with a sacred bond, the faith of the heart with outward confession; and "what God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." Those dissemblers, therefore, who spontaneously envelop their faith in obscurity, treacherously corrupt the whole Word of God. We must remember, however, that the order which David here observes is demanded of all God's children, their believing, before they make any professions with their lips. But, as I said, he speaks of his imminent danger, that he may the more enhance the safety and deliverance which God had vouchsafed to him.

11. I said in my fear. Some take the word zpx, chaphaz, to denote haste or flight, and consider it as expressive of what David said when he fled in great haste from the face of Saul. But, as it figuratively signifies fear, I have no doubt that David here declares that he felt astonished and dejected in spirit, as if he were upon the brink of a precipice, ready to tumble into the abyss. He acknowledges that, when he was so dreadfully harassed in mind, his heart had almost sunk within him. Annotators are not agreed about the meaning of the second member of the verse. One class holding that David declares that he doubted the promise of the kingdom made to him by the prophet Samuel. That Samuel was a competent witness, admits of no question; but when David saw himself banished from his native country, and constantly exposed to death in various forms, he might be overtaken by the temptation that he had been vainly and ineffectually anointed by Samuel. According to them, the meaning is -- I had almost perished in my flight, and the promise given me fled away; and, moreover, I had been deceived by delusive hope. Another class, putting an opposite interpretation upon this passage, assert that David surmounted the temptation; so that, when Satan by his wiles wished to make him despair, he instantly recovered himself; and removed all occasion of unbelief in the following manner: "What art thou doing, miserable man that thou art, and whither art thou hastening? Darest thou, even indirectly, impute falsehood to God? Nay, rather let him be true, and let vanity, and falsehood, and perfidy, lie at thine own door." My own opinion is, that this doctrine is to be understood more generally, that David did not intend this prediction directly for himself; but, his mind being perplexed, he inadvertently entangled himself in the snares of Satan, and was unable to place his confidence any where. The faithful often stagger, and Satan bringing them into a state of deep darkness, the word of God almost forsakes them; still they do not abandon their confidence, nor deliberately charge God with falsehood, but rather keep their evil thoughts under restraint. The verb to say, among the Hebrews, is expressive of firm persuasion, as we say in French, J'ay conclu, ou resolu, "I have concluded, or resolved;" and, therefore, we are to understand that this temptation could not enter David's heart, without his instantly withstanding it. Consequently, the view which I have given of the passage is the proper one, That David did not see God during this season of mental darkness. The faithful do not deliberately speak against God, or ask whether he be true or not, nor does this horrid blasphemy completely engross their thoughts; but, on the contrary, as often as it arises, they banish it from them, and hold it in abhorrence. Nevertheless, it occasionally happens that they are so troubled, that they behold nothing except vanity and falsehood. Such was David's experience during this fear and trouble; he felt as if a dense fog obstructed his vision. "There is no certainty, no security. What shall I think? In what shall I confide? To what shall I have recourse?" Frequently do the faithful thus reason with themselves, there is no trust to be reposed in men. A veil is spread over their eyes, which, preventing them from seeing the light of God, causes them to grovel upon the earth, till, being elevated above the heavens, they begin anew to discern the truth of God.

The design of David, as I formerly observed, is in all respects to magnify the grace of God; and for this purpose, in speaking of his trials, he acknowledges that he did not deserve divine help and comfort; for he ought to have recollected, that, depending on the prophecy, he would have risen superior to all unbelief. This, he says, he did not do, because, owing to the perturbation of his mind, he could see nothing but vanity. If his faith was shaken in this violent manner, what will we do if God do not support and sustain us? This is not meant to keep the faithful in suspense between doubt and uncertainty, but rather to make them call more earnestly upon God. We ought to consider this trial attentively, for we can form no conception of these assaults until we actually experience them. Let us at the same time remember, that David's attack was only temporary, continuing while he was perplexed with doubt, in consequence of the prophecy having escaped from his recollection.

1 "'I believed, therefore have I spoken;' I firmly believe what I say, therefore I make no scruple of saying it. This should be connected with the preceding verse, and the full stop should be placed at 'spoken.'" -- Horsley.

2 Horsley's version of this verse is as follows: "'In an ecstasy of despair, I said, the whole race of man is a delusion.' 'A delusion,' a lie, a cheat, a thing of nothing, made to no purpose. So Mudge understands this latter part. He judiciously observes, that the prefixed h necessarily determines the phrase, Mdah lk, to the collective sense of the whole race. Every man, or all men, should be Mda lk, without h." Fry similarly translates, "The entire of the manhood is a lie; or," he observes, "(as the word we render lie signifies,) a thing failing and disappointing the hopes built upon it."


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