1. O Jehovah! Remember David, and all his affliction: 2. Who sware to Jehovah, vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob. 3. If; shall enter into the tabernacle of my house, if I shall go up upon the cover of my couch,1 4. If I give sleep to mine eyes, slumber to mine eyelids, 5. Until I, find a place for Jehovah, habitations2 for the Mighty One of Jacob 3
1.O Jehovah! remember David. Interpreters are not agreed respecting the penman of this Psalm, though there is little doubt that it was either David or Solomon. At the solemn dedication of the Temple, when Solomon prayed, several verses are mentioned in the sacred history as having been quoted by him, from which we may infer that the Psalm was sufficiently well known to the people, or that Solomon applied a few words of it for an occasion in reference to which he had written the whole Psalm. The name of David is prominently mentioned, because it was to him that the continuance of the kingdom and Temple was promised, and though dead, this could not affect the truthfulness of God's word. The Church could very properly pray in the manner which is here done, that God would perform what he had promised to his servant David, not as a private individual, but in favor of all his people. It was therefore a preposterous idea of the Papists to argue from this passage that we may be benefitted by the intercession of the dead. Just as if the faithful were here to be understood as calling up an advocate from the tomb to plead their cause with God, when it is abundantly evident from the context that they look entirely to the covenant which God had made with David, knowing well that though given to one man, it was with the understanding that it should be communicated to all. There is a propriety why mention should be made of his affliction or humiliation. Some render the word meekness, but there is no reason for this whatsoever. In 2 Chronicles 6:42, it is true we read of Mydox; that is, mercies, which I consider to be there understood in the passive sense, as meaning the benefits which had been conferred upon David; but I am clearly of opinion that here the reference is to the anxious cares, the numerous difficulties and struggles which David had to undergo, so long as he was kept by God in suspense. Remember, as if it had been said, the great anxieties, the heavy troubles, which David endured before he came to the kingdom, and how fervently and earnestly he desired to build the Temple, though he was not allowed to do it during his whole life. The dangers, labors, and troubles which he underwent, must clearly have confirmed the faith of God's people in the truth of the divine oracle, inasmuch as they showed how firmly and certainly he was himself convinced of the truth of what God had spoken. Some insert the copulative reading, remember David and affliction; but of this I do not approve. The particle ta eth, rather denotes that special respect in which they would have David remembered, viz., as regarded his afflictions, or that he might come forth before the view of God with his afflictions, and obtain his desire according to them.
2. Who sware to Jehovah. One affliction of David is particularly mentioned, That he was filled with perplexity on account of the situation of the Ark. Moses had commanded the people ages before to worship God in the place which he had chosen. (Deuteronomy 12:5.) David knew that the full time had now arrived when the particular place should be made apparent, and yet was in some hesitation -- a state of things which was necessarily attended with much anxiety, especially to one who was so ardently attached to the worship of God, and so vehemently desirous to have the fixed presence of God with the nation, for its defense and government. It is said that he swore to see to the building of the Temple, and to postpone every other consideration to the accomplishment of this object.4 The objurgation may seem to assume a somewhat too harsh and severe form, when he declares his resolution to refuse sleep, his food, and the common supports of life, until a place should have been set apart for the Temple. To have acted in this way would have been to show an inconsiderate zeal, for it did not become him to prescribe the time to God, nor was it possible for him to endure any number of fasting days or sleepless nights. Then when are we to consider that this vow was taken? I am aware indeed that some Hebrew writers judge it to have been at that period when he fell down trembling at the sight of the angel; but, without denying that the plot of ground was pointed out to him immediately after that circumstance, it is altogether a forced and unsupported conjecture to say, that what had so long been in the thoughts of David was conceived at that exact time. Nor is there anything which should prevent us from supposing that his language is here to be understood as hyperbolical, and that this was not a vow in the strict form of it, but to be understood in a qualified sense that he would never enter his house, nor ascend his couch, without feeling a concern upon this subject. He felt persuaded that the settlement of the sanctuary was intimately connected with the state of the kingdom; and we need not be surprised that so long as he was kept in uncertainty regarding the place of the Temple, he should scarcely have felt assured of his very crown, and have been incapable of sharing the ordinary comforts of life with any satisfaction. Still, where Scripture has been silent we can say nothing certain; and I may throw out these things as what seems to me the most probable interpretation. And I think the sense of the passage may very well bear to be that which I have mentioned, That until informed of the place of the Ark's destined residence, David was full of concern and anxiety, dwelling in his house, or when he lay upon his bed. As to the vow itself, this and other passages afford no ground for supposing, with the Papists, that God approves of whatever vows they may utter, without regard to the nature of them. To vow unto God that which he has himself declared to be agreeable to him, is a commendable practice; but it is too much presumption on our part to say that we will rush upon such vows as suit our carnal inclination. The great thing is that we consider what is agreeable to his will, otherwise we may be found depriving him of that wherein indeed his principal right lies, for with him "to obey is better than sacrifice." (1 Samuel 15:22.)