Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 8: Psalms, Part I, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
In this psalm, David rehearses the desires and meditations with which he had exercised himself in the midst of his great dangers. The thanksgivings which he mingles with them show that it was composed after his deliverance. It is also probable that he repeats at once the prayers which had exercised his thoughts in his different meditations. Hence it is to be seen here with what invincible fortitude of soul the holy man was endued, that he might overcome the most grievous assaults of his enemies. His wonderful piety shines forth in this, that he wished to live for no other purpose than to serve God: nor could he be turned aside from this purpose by any anxiety or trouble.
A Psalm of David.
1. Jehovah is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? Jehovah is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? 2. When the wicked came upon me to eat up my flesh, when my oppressors and mine enemies came upon me, they stumbled and fell. 3. Though armies should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.
1. Jehovah is my light. This commencement may be understood as meaning that David, having already experienced God’s mercy, publishes a testimony of his gratitude. But I rather incline to another meaning, namely, that, perceiving the conflict he had to wage with the sharpest temptations, he fortifies himself beforehand, and as it were brings together matter for confidence: for it is necessary that the saints earnestly wrestle with themselves to repel or subdue the doubts which the flesh is so prone to cherish, that they may cheerfully and speedily betake themselves to prayer. David, accordingly, having been tossed with various tempests, at length recovers himself, and shouts triumphantly over the troubles with which he had been harassed, rejoicing that whenever God displays his mercy and favor, there is nothing to be feared. This is farther intimated by the accumulation of terms which he employs, when he calls God not only his light, but his salvation, and the rock or strength of his life His object was, to put a threefold shield, as it were, against his various fears, as sufficient to ward them off. The term light, as is well known, is used in Scripture to denote joy, or the perfection of happiness. Farther, to explain his meaning, he adds that God was his salvation and the strength of his life, as it was by his help that he felt himself safe, and free from the terrors of death. Certainly we find that all our fears arise from this source, that we are too anxious about our life, while we acknowledge not that God is its preserver. We can have no tranquillity, therefore, until we attain the persuasion that our life is sufficiently guarded, because it is protected by his omnipotent power. The interrogation, too, shows how highly David esteemed the Divine protection, as he thus boldly exults against all his enemies and dangers. Nor assuredly do we ascribe due homage to God, unless, trusting to his promised aid, we dare to boast of the certainty of our safety. Weighing, as it were, in scales the whole power of earth and hell, David accounts it all lighter than a feather, and considers God alone as far outweighing the whole.
Let us learn, therefore, to put such a value on God’s power to protect us as to put to flight all our fears. Not that the minds of the faithful can, by reason of the infirmity of the flesh, be at all times entirely devoid of fear; but immediately recovering courage, let us, from the high tower of our confidence, look down upon all our dangers with contempt. Those who have never tasted the grace of God tremble because they refuse to rely on him, and imagine that he is often incensed against them, or at least far removed from them. But with the promises of God before our eyes, and the grace which they offer, our unbelief does him grievous wrong, if we do not with unshrinking courage boldly set him against all our enemies. When God, therefore, kindly allures us to himself, and assures us that he will take care of our safety, since we have embraced his promises, or because we believe him to be faithful, it is meet that we highly extol his power, that it may ravish our hearts with admiration of himself. We must mark well this comparison, What are all creatures to God? Moreover, we must extend this confidence still farther, in order to banish all fears from our consciences, like Paul, who, when speaking of his eternal salvation, boldly exclaims,
“If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Ro 8:34.)
2. When the wicked, etc. There is no reason for translating this sentence, as some interpreters do, into the future tense. 579 But while we retain the past tense which the prophet employs, the words may be explained in a twofold manner. The meaning but in the prophetic writings it is often used for the future. There does not, however, as Calvin remarks, appear to be any necessity for translating the verbs into the future tense in this passage, in which David may be considered as contemplating the past evidences of the goodness of God towards him, and from them taking encouragement with respect to the future. either is, that David celebrates the victory which he had obtained by the blessing of God; or there is a reference to the manner in which he had encouraged himself to hope the best, even in the midst of his temptations, namely, by thinking of God’s former favors. The latter is the exposition which I prefer. They both, however, amount to the same thing, and imply that David had no reason henceforth to doubt of God’s assistance when he considered his former experience; for nothing is of greater use to confirm our faith, than the remembrance of those instances in which God has clearly given us a proof not only of his grace, but of his truth and power. I connect this verse, accordingly, with the following one. In the former, David recalls to mind the triumphs which, by God’s help, he had already obtained; and from this he concludes, that by what hosts soever he may be environed, or whatever mischief his enemies may devise against him, he would fearlessly stand up against them. The Hebrew word קרב karab, signifies to approach; but here it refers to the irruption that David’s enemies made upon him when they assaulted him. Some translate it to fight, but this translation is flat. To testify his innocence, he calls them wicked or froward, and by saying that they came upon him to eat up his flesh, 580 he expresses their savage cruelty.
3. Though armies should encamp. He infers from his former experience, as I have already mentioned, that whatever adversity may befall him, he ought to hope well, and to have no misgivings about the divine protection, which had been so effectually vouchsafed to him in his former need. He had asserted this, indeed, in the first verse, but now, upon farther proof of it, he repeats it. Under the terms, camps and armies, he includes whatever is most formidable in the world: as if he had said, Although all men should conspire for my destruction, I will disregard their violence, because the power of God, which I know is on my side, is far above theirs. But when he declares, My heart shall not fear, this does not imply that he would be entirely devoid of fear, — for that would have been more worthy of the name of insensibility than of virtue; but lest his heart should faint under the terrors which he had to encounter, he opposed to them the shield of faith. Some transfer the word translated in this to the following verse, meaning that he was confident that he would dwell in God’s house; but I am of opinion that it belongs rather to the preceding doctrine. For then does faith bring forth its fruit in due season, when we remain firm and fearless in the midst of dangers. David, therefore, intimates, that when the trial comes, his faith will prove invincible, because it relies on the power of God.
4. One thing have I desired of Jehovah, this will I follow after; that I may dwell in the house of Jehovah all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of Jehovah, and diligently to survey his temple. 5. For he shall hide me in his tent in the day of evil: 581 he shall hide me in the secret place of his tent; he shall set me up upon a rock. 6. And now shall he lift up my head above mine enemies who surround me: and I will offer sacrifices of joy in his tabernacle; I will sing and praise Jehovah.
4. One thing have I desired. Some consider this as a prophecy of the perpetuity of David’s kingdom, on which not only his own personal happiness depended, but also the happiness of his whole people; as if he had said, I am so well contented with this singular proof of God’s favor, that I can think on nothing else night and day. In my opinion, however, it appears a simpler interpretation to view the words as meaning, that although David was banished from his country, despoiled of his wife, bereft of his kinsfolk; and, in fine, dispossessed of his substance, yet he was not so desirous for the recovery of these, as he was grieved and afflicted for his banishment from God’s sanctuary, and the loss of his sacred privileges. Under the word one, there is an implied antithesis, in which David, disregarding all other interests, displays his intense affection for the service of God; so that it was bitterer to him to be an exile from the sanctuary, than to be denied access to his own house. That David desired only one thing, therefore, namely, to dwell in the house of the Lord, must be read in one sentence. For there is no probability that he means by this some secret wish which he suppressed, seeing he distinctly proclaims what it was that chiefly troubled him. He adds, too, steadiness of purpose, declaring that he will not cease to reiterate these prayers. Many may be seen spurring on with great impetuosity at first, whose ardor, in process of time, not only languishes, but is almost immediately extinguished. By declaring, therefore, that he would persevere in this wish during his whole life, he thereby distinguishes between himself and hypocrites.
We must, however, observe by what motive David was so powerfully stimulated. “Surely,” some may say, “he could have called on God beyond the precincts of the temple. Wherever he wandered as an exile, he carried with him the precious promise of God, so that he needed not to put so great a value upon the sight of the external edifice. He appears, by some gross imagination or other, to suppose that God could be enclosed by wood and stones.” But if we examine the words more carefully, it will be easy to see, that his object was altogether different from a mere sight of the noble building and its ornaments, however costly. He speaks, indeed, of the beauty of the temple, but he places that beauty not so much in the goodliness that was to be seen by the eye, as in its being the celestial pattern which was shown to Moses, as it is written in Ex 25:40,
“And look that thou make them after this pattern which was showed thee in the mount.”
As the fashion of the temple was not framed according to the wisdom of man, but was an image of spiritual things, the prophet directed his eyes and all his affections to this object. Their madness is, therefore, truly detestable who wrest this place in favor of pictures and images, which, instead of deserving to be numbered among temple ornaments, are rather like dung and filth, defiling all the purity of holy things. We should now consider, whether the faithful are to be like-minded under the Christian or Gospel dispensation. 582 I own, indeed, that we are in very different circumstances from the ancient fathers; but so far as God still preserves his people under a certain external order, and draws them to him by earthly instructions, temples have still their beauty, which deservedly ought to draw the affections and desires of the faithful to them. The Word, sacraments, public prayers, and other helps of the same kind, cannot be neglected, without a wicked contempt of God, who manifests himself to us in these ordinances, as in a mirror or image.
5. For he shall hide me in his tent. Here the Psalmist promises himself that his prayer would not be in vain. Although he is deprived of the visible sanctuary for a time, he doubts not that, wherever he may be, he shall experience the protecting power of God. And he alludes to the temple, because it was a symbol to the faithful of the divine presence; as if he had said, that in making the request which he mentioned he by no means lost his labor; for every one who shall seek God sincerely, and with a pure heart, shall be safely concealed under the wings of his protection. The figure of the temple, he therefore affirms, was not an unmeaning one, for there God, so to speak, spread forth his wings to gather true believers under his protection. From this he concludes, that as he had no greater desire than to flee for refuge under these wings, there would be a shelter ready for him in times of adversity, under the divine protection, which, under the figure of a rock, he tells us, would be impregnable like towers, which, for the sake of strength, were wont to be built, in ancient times, in lofty places. Although he was, therefore, at this time, environed by enemies on every side, yet he boasts that he shall overcome them. It is, indeed, a common form of speech in the Scriptures to say, that those who are oppressed with grief walk with a bowed down back and dejected countenance, while, on the other hand, they lift up their heads when their joyfulness is restored. Thus David spake, Ps 3:4, “Thou, Lord, art the lifter up of mine head.” But because besieging is here put in opposition to this, he meant to say, that in that divine refuge he would be as it were lifted on high, so that he might fearlessly disregard the darts of his enemies, which might have otherwise pierced him. And in hoping for victory, though he was reduced to such straits as threatened instant death, he gives us a remarkable proof of his faith; by which we are taught not to measure the aid of God by outward appearances or visible means, but even in the midst of death to hope for deliverance from his powerful and victorious hand.
6. And I will offer sacrifices of triumph 583 in his tabernacle. By making a solemn vow of thanksgiving, after he shall have been delivered from dangers, he confirms himself again in the hope of deliverance. The faithful under the Law, we know, were wont, by a solemn rite, to pay their vows, when they had experienced any remarkable blessing from God. Here, therefore, David, though in banishment, and prohibited from approaching the temple, boasts that he would again come to the altar of God, and offer the sacrifice of praise. It appears, however, that he tacitly sets the holy rejoicing and songs, in which he promises to give thanks to God, in opposition to the profane triumphings of the world.
7. Hear, O Jehovah! my voice, with which I cry unto thee; have mercy upon me, and answer me. 8. My heart said to thee, 584 Seek ye my face; therefore, 585 thy face, O Jehovah! will I seek. 9. Hide not thy face from me; east not away thy servant in thy wrath: thou hast been my strength; leave me not, neither forsake me utterly, O God of my salvation!
7. Hear, O Jehovah! my voice. The Psalmist returns again to prayer, and in doing so, he declares with what armor he was furnished to break through his temptations. By the word cry, he expresses his vehemence, as I have elsewhere said, that he may thereby move God the sooner to help him. For the same purpose, also, he a little after mentions his misery, because the more the faithful are oppressed, the more does their very need induce God to extend his favor towards them.
8. My heart said to thee. The change of person in the verbs has occasioned a variety of interpretations of this verse. But whoever closely examines David’s design will perceive that the text runs perfectly well. As it becomes us not rashly to rush into the presence of God, until he first calls us, David first tells us, that he carefully considered how gently and sweetly God prevents his people, by spontaneously inviting them to seek his face; and then, recovering his cheerfulness, he declares he would come wheresoever God may call him. The sense of the Hebrew word לך, leka, is somewhat ambiguous. It may mean the same thing as tibi, to thee, in Latin. But as the Hebrew letter ל, lamed, is often used for the preposition of, or concerning, it may properly enough be translated, my heart hath said of thee; an exposition to which the majority of interpreters incline. More probably, however, in my opinion, it denotes a mutual conversation between God and the prophet. I have just said, that no one can believingly rise to seek God until the way is first opened by God’s invitation, as I have elsewhere shown from the prophet’s declaration,
“I will say, It is my people; and they shall say, The Lord is my God,” (Zec 13:9.)
David accordingly says, that in this way the door was opened for him to seek God: he brings forward this promise, and thus responds, as it were, to God. 586 And, certainly, if this symphony does not precede, no man will conduct aright the chorus of the invitation. As soon, therefore, as we hear God presenting himself to us, let us cordially reply, Amen; and let us think with ourselves of his promises, as if they were familiarly addressed to us. Thus true believers have no need to seek any subtle artifice or tedious circuits to introduce themselves into God’s favor, since this preface prepares so easy a way for them, “However unworthy we are to be received by thee, O Lord, yet thy commandment, by which thou enjoinest upon us to come to thee, is sufficient encouragement to us.” The voice of God, therefore, ought to resound in our hearts, like an echo in hollow places, that from this mutual concord there may spring confidence to call upon him.
The term, face, is commonly explained to mean help or succor; as if it had been said, Seek me. But I am persuaded that the allusion here is also to the sanctuary, and that David refers to the mode of manifestation in which God was wont to render himself in some degree visible. No doubt, it is unlawful to form any gross or carnal idea of him, but as he appointed the ark of the covenant to be a token of his presence, it is, without any impropriety, every where denominated his face. It is indeed true, that we are far from God so long as we abide in this world, because faith is far removed from sight; but it is equally true, that we now see God as in a mirror, and darkly, (1Co 13:12,) until he shall openly show himself to us at the last day. Under this word, therefore, I am persuaded, are represented to us those helps by which God raises us to his presence, descending from his inconceivable glory to us, and furnishing us on earth with a vision of his heavenly glory. But as it is according to his own sovereign pleasure that God vouchsafes us to look upon him, (as he does in Word and sacraments,) it becomes us steadily to fix our eyes on this view, that it may not be with us as with the Papists, who, by means of the wildest inventions, wickedly transform God into whatever shapes please their fancy, or their brains have conceived.
9. Hide not thy face from me. The Psalmist elegantly continues the same form of speech, but with a different meaning. The face of God is now employed to describe the sensible effects of his grace and favor: as if it had been said, Lord, make me truly to experience that thou hast been near to me, and let me clearly behold thy power in saving me. We must observe the distinction between the theoretical knowledge derived from the Word of God and what is called the experimental knowledge of his grace. For as God shows himself present in operation, (as they usually speak,) he must first be sought in his Word. The sentence which follows, Cast not away thy servant in thine anger, some Jewish interpreters expound in too forced a manner to mean, Suffer not thy servant to be immersed in the wicked cares of this world, which are nothing but anger and madness. I, however, prefer to translate the Hebrew word נטה, natah, as many translate it, to turn away from, or to remove. Their meaning is more probable who interpret it, Make not thy servant to decline to anger. When a person is utterly forsaken by God, he cannot but be agitated within by murmuring thoughts, and break forth into the manifestations of vexation and anger. If any one think that David now anticipates this temptation, I shall not object, for he was not without reason afraid of impatience, which weakens us and makes us go beyond the bounds of reason. But I keep to the first exposition, as it is confirmed by the two words which follow; and thus the term anger imports a tacit confession of sin; because, although David acknowledges that God might justly cast him off, he deprecates his anger. Moreover, by recalling to mind God’s former favors, he encourages himself to hope for more, and by this argument he moves God to continue his help, and not to leave his work imperfect.
10. When my father and mother shall forsake me, Jehovah will take me up. 11. Teach me thy way, O Jehovah! and lead me in the right path, because of mine adversaries. 12. Give me not up to the desire 587 of mine oppressors: for false witnesses have risen up against me, and he who bringeth forth violence.
10. When my father and my mother shall forsake me. As it appears from the sacred history, that Jesse, so far as his opportunity admitted, performed his duty to his son David, some are of opinion that the nobles and councillors are here mentioned allegorically; but this is not suitable. Nor is it with any reason that they urge this scruple. David does not complain that he was unnaturally betrayed by his father or mother; but by this comparison he magnifies the grace of God, declaring, that he would ever find him ready to help him, although he might be forsaken of all men. The Hebrew particle כי, ki, for the most part, signifies for, but it is also known to be often employed for the adverb of time, when. David, therefore, meant to intimate, that whatever benevolence, love, zeal, attention, or service, might be found among men, they are far inferior to the paternal mercy with which God encircles his people. The highest degree of love among men, it is true, is to be found in parents who love their children as their own bowels. But God advances us higher, declaring, by the prophet Isaiah, that though a mother may forget the child of her womb, he would always be mindful of us, (Isa 49:15.) In this degree does David place him, so that he who is the source of all goodness far surpasses all mortals, who are naturally malevolent and niggardly. It is, however, an imperfect mode of speech, like that in Isa 63:16,
“Doubtless, thou art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not.”
The purport of the whole is this: However inclined by nature earthly parents are to help their children, nay, though they should endeavor to cherish them with the greatest ardor of affection, yet should affection be wholly extinguished in the earth, God would fulfill the duty both of father and mother to his people. From which it follows, that we basely undervalue the grace of God, if our faith rise not above all the affections of nature; for sooner shall the laws of nature be overturned a hundred times, than God shall fail his people.
11. Teach me thy way, O Jehovah! Many think that David here requests that God would guide him by his Spirit, lest he should surpass his enemies in acting violently and wickedly. This doctrine is, no doubt, very useful, but it does not seem to agree with the scope of the passage. It is a simpler interpretation, in my opinion, to consider that David desires, in order to escape the snares and violence of his enemies, that God would extend to him his hand, and safely conduct him, so as to give a happy issue to his affairs. He sets the right path in opposition to the difficulties and impediments which are in places which are rough, and of difficult access, to overcome which he was unequal, unless God undertook the office of a guide to lead him. But he who thus desires to commit himself to the safeguard and protection of God, 588 must first renounce crafty and wicked devices. We must not expect that God, who promises to grant a happy issue only to the single in heart, and those who trust in his faithfulness, will bless crooked and wicked counsels.
12. Give me not up to the desire of mine oppressors. The Hebrew noun נפש, nephesh, signifies lust, will, or desire; and the language of David implies, Deliver me not up to the pleasure or lust of mine enemies, and thus he intimates, that they greedily gaped for his destruction. God delivers his people in two ways; either by appeasing the cruelty of the wicked, and rendering them meek; or, if he permit them to burn with fury, by restraining their power and violence, so that they desire and endeavor in vain to do mischief. The Psalmist afterwards adds, that he is persecuted both with slanders and false accusations, and also by open violence; for when he says, that they bring forth violence, 589 he means that they speak of nothing but of war and slaughter. We thus see that the holy man was miserably oppressed on every side. Even his integrity, which we know to have been singular, could not free him from bitter and deadly calumnies, and he was at the same time overwhelmed by the violence and force of his enemies. If the ungodly, therefore, should at any time rise against us, not only with menaces and cruel violence, but to give the semblance of justice to their enmity, should slander us with lies, let us remember the example of David, who was assaulted in both ways; nay, let us recall to mind that Christ the Son of God suffered no less injury from lying tongues than from violence. 590 Moreover, this prayer was dictated for our comfort, to intimate that God can maintain our innocence, and oppose the shield of his protection to the cruelty of our enemies.
13. Unless I had believed to see the goodness of Jehovah in the land of the living: 591 14. Wait thou on Jehovah; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait thou also on Jehovah.
13. Unless I had believed to see the goodness of Jehovah. It is generally agreed among interpreters, that this sentence is incomplete. Some, however, are of opinion, that the Hebrew particle לולא lulë, is used for the purpose of affirmation, as if it were a species of oath; the Hebrews being accustomed to swear elliptically; for breaking off in the middle of the discourse and leaving it imperfect, they supplied an imprecation, namely, that God would punish them in case they perjured themselves. But the greater number give a different interpretation, namely, that David intimates that he was supported solely by faith, otherwise he had perished a hundred times. The meaning which they elicit, accordingly, is, Had I not relied on the promise of God, and been assuredly persuaded that he would safely preserve me, and had I not continued firm in this persuasion, I had utterly perished: There was no other remedy. Some understand by the land of the living, the heavenly inheritance; but this interpretation is forced, and disagrees with the usual style of Scripture. When Hezekiah laments in his song recorded in Isa 38:11, that he had no hope of seeing God “in the land of the living,” he means, without all doubt, the present life, as he immediately adds, “I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world.” A similar form of speech occurs also in another place, (Jer 11:19.) David then believed that he would still enjoy the goodness of God in this world, although he was now deprived of all experience of his favor, and could see no spark of light. From the darkness of death, therefore, he promises himself a view of the divine favor, and by this persuasion his life is sustained, although, according to the judgment of carnal reason, it was past recovery and lost. It is to be observed, however, that David does not rashly go beyond the divine promise. It is true that “godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come,” (1Ti 4:8;) but he would have never dared to entertain this persuasion had he not been informed by a special revelation, and assuredly promised a successor, who should always sit upon his throne, (Ps. 132:11, 12.) He was, therefore, justly persuaded that he would not die till this promise was fulfilled. Lest any man, therefore, by an unwarranted imitation of his example, should overleap the boundaries of faith, it is necessary to understand what was peculiar to him, and did not belong to us. In general, however, we ought all to hope that, although God may not openly work deliverance for us, or show us his favor in a visible manner, he will, nevertheless, be always merciful to us, even in the present life.
14. Wait thou on Jehovah. It may be doubted whether David, having in the preceding verses spoken of himself, here addresses his discourse to others, and exhorts them by his own example to fortitude and persevering patience, as he does in the conclusion of Ps 31:19, where, after speaking concerning himself particularly, he makes a transition, and addresses himself to all the godly. But as he speaks here in the singular number, and uses no mark to show that he directs his discourse to others, it is in my opinion probable that he applies it to himself, the more to encourage his confidence in God, lest at any time his heart should faint. 592 As he was conscious of his weakness, and knew that his faith was the great means of preserving him safe, he seasonably strengthens himself for the future. Under the word waiting, too, he puts himself in mind of new trials, and sets before his eyes the cross which he must bear. We are then said to wait on God, when, withdrawing his grace from us, he suffers us to languish under afflictions. David, therefore, having got through one conflict, prepares himself to encounter new ones. But as nothing is more difficult than to give God the honor of relying upon him, when he hides himself from us, or delays his assistance, David stirs himself up to collect strength; as if he had said, If fearfulness steal upon thee; if temptation shake thy faith; if the feelings of the flesh rise in tumult, do not faint; but rather endeavor to rise above them by an invincible resolution of mind. From this we may learn, that the children of God overcome, not by sullenness, but by patience, when they commit their souls quietly to God; as Isaiah says,
“In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength,”
As David did not feel himself equal to great and difficult efforts, he borrows strength from God by prayer. Had he said no more than Act like a man, 593 he would have appeared to allege the motions of his own free-will, but as he immediately adds, by way of correction, that God would be at hand to strengthen his heart, he plainly enough shows, that when the saints strive vigorously, they fight in the strength of another, and not in their own. David does not, like the Papists, put his own efforts into the van, and afterwards supplicate for divine aid, but having done his own duty, although he knew that he was destitute of strength in himself, he requests that his deficiency may be supplied by the grace of the Holy Spirit. And as he knew that the war must be continued during his whole life, and that new conflicts would daily arise, and that the troubles of the saints are often protracted for a long period, he again repeats what he had said about waiting on God: Wait thou alone on Jehovah
The rendering of the learned Castellio is, “Si invadant — offensuri sunt atque casuri;” — “If they invade me they shall stumble and fall The Hebrew verbs for “stumble” and “fall”
French and Skinner read, “to devour my flesh;” and observe, that “this image is taken from a wild beast. Compare Ps 3:7, and Ps 22:13.”
“C’est, d’adversite.” — Note, Fr. marg. “That is, of adversity.”
“Sous le regne de Christ.” — Fr.
“Sacrificia jubili.” — Lat. “Sacrifice de triomphe.” — Fr. Ainsworth reads, “Sacrifices of shouting, or of triumph, of joyful sounding and alarm.” “This,” says he, “hath respect to the law which appointed over the sacrifices trumpets to be sounded, Nu 10:10, whose chiefest, most loud, joyful, and triumphant sound was called trughnah, [or תרועה, truah, the word here used,] ‘triumph,’ ‘alarm,’ or ‘jubilation,’ Nu 10:5-7.”
“Ou dit de toy.” — Fr. marg. “Or said of or concerning thee.”
“Pourtant.” — Fr.
Calvin’s meaning appears to be this:- God has given us in his word that gracious command or invitation, “Seek ye my face,” inviting us to seek him by prayer and the other exercises of religion. Now, when David says, “My heart said to thee, Seek ye my face,” he means that his heart reminded God of his command or invitation; and by this he encouraged himself to seek God’s face, which he expresses his resolution to do in the following clause, “Thy face, O Jehovah! will I seek.”
“C’est, plaisir.” — Fr. marg. “That is, will or pleasure.”
“En la sauvegarde et protection de Dieu.” — Fr.
Hammond renders the words “breathers or speakers of injury or rapine; חמס, signifying injury or rapine, and פוח, speak.” Ainsworth reads, “He that breatheth or puffeth out violent wrong.
“De glaives et autre tels efforts.” — Fr. “From the sword and other such weapons.”
In the Hebrew this verse is elliptical, as Calvin here translates it. In the French version he supplies the ellipsis, by adding to the end of the verse the words, “C’estoit fait de moy,” “I had perished.” In our English version, the words, “I had fainted,” are introduced as a supplement, in the beginning of the verse. Both the supplement of Calvin, and that of our English version, which are substantially the same, doubtless explain the meaning of the passage; but they destroy the elegant abrupt form of the expression employed by the Psalmist, who breaks off in the middle of his discourse without completing the sentence, although what he meant to say is very evident. “Unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, What! what, alas! should have become of me!” - Dr Adam Clarke. As, however, לולא, lulë, which is rendered unless, is omitted by the ancient versions and several MSS., some consider it an interpolation, and translate the verse without an ellipsis. Thus Walford renders it, “I have believed that I shall behold the goodness of Jehovah in the land of the living.”
“A ce que sa foy ne soit jamais esbranier.” — Fr. “That his faith might never be shaken.”
Calvin here seems to use the Septuagint version. What he renders in the text, “Be of good courage,” is rendered by the Septuagint, ἀνδρίζου “Be manly, or act like a man.” The Vulgate reads, “vinliter ae,” following the Septuagint, as it generally does. Paul uses the same phraseology in 1Co 16:13. “These,” says Ainsworth, “are the words of encouragement against remissness, fear, faintness of heart, or other infirmities.”