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Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at

Psalms Chapter 86


psa 86:0

Prayer of a Persecuted Saint

A Psalm "by David" which has points of contact with Psa 85:1-13 (cf. Psa 86:2, חסיד, with Psa 85:9; Psa 86:15, חסד ואמת, with Psa 85:11) is here inserted between Korahitic Psalms: it can only be called a Psalm by David as having grown out of Davidic and other model passages. The writer cannot be compared for poetical capability either with David or with the authors of such Psalms as Ps 116 and Psa 130:1-8. His Psalm is more liturgic than purely poetic, and it is also only entitled תּפּלּה, without bearing in itself any sign of musical designation. It possesses this characteristic, that the divine name אדני occurs seven times,

(Note: For the genuine reading in Psa 86:4 (where Heidenheim reads יהוה) and in Psa 86:5 (where Nissel reads יהוה) is also אדני (Bomberg, Hutter, etc.). Both the divine names in Psa 86:4 and Psa 86:5 belong to the 134 ודּאין. The divine name אדני, which is written and is not merely substituted for יהוה, is called in the language of the Masora ודאי (the true and real one).)

just as it occurs three times in Psa 130:1-8, forming the start for a later, Adonajic style in imitation of the Elohimic.

Psalms 86:1

psa 86:1

The prayer to be heard runs like Psa 55:3; and the statement of the ground on which it is based, Psa 86:1, word for word like Ps 40:18. It is then particularly expressed as a prayer for preservation (שׁמרה, as in Psa 119:167, although imperative, to be read shāmerah; cf. Psa 30:4 מיּרדי, Psa 38:21 רדפי or רדפי, and what we have already observed on Psa 16:1 שׁמרני); for he is not only in need of God's help, but also because חסיד (Psa 4:4; Psa 16:10), i.e., united to Him in the bond of affection (חסד, Hos 6:4; Jer 2:2), not unworthy of it. In Psa 86:2 we hear the strains of Psa 25:20; Psa 31:7; in Psa 86:3, of Psa 57:2.: the confirmation in Psa 86:4 is taken verbally from Psa 25:1, cf. also Psa 130:6. Here, what is said in Psa 86:4 of this shorter Adonajic Psalm, Psa 130:1-8, is abbreviated in the ἅπαξ γεγραμ. סלּח (root סל, של, to allow to hang loose, χαλᾶν, to give up, remittere). The Lord is good (טּוב), i.e., altogether love, and for this very reason also ready to forgive, and great and rich in mercy for all who call upon Him as such. The beginning of the following group also accords with Psa 130:1-8 in Psa 86:2.

Psalms 86:6

psa 86:6

Here, too, almost everything is an echo of earlier language of the Psalms and of the Law; viz., Psa 86:7 follows Psa 17:6 and other passages; Psa 86:8 is taken from Exo 15:11, cf. Psa 89:9, where, however, אלהים, gods, is avoided; Psa 86:8 follows Deu 3:24; Psa 86:9 follows Psa 22:28; Psa 86:11 is taken from Psa 27:11; Psa 86:11 from Psa 26:3; Psa 86:13, שׁאול תּחתּיּה from Deu 32:22, where instead of this it is תּחתּית, just as in Psa 130:2 תּחנוּני (supplicatory prayer) instead of תּחנוּנותי (importunate supplications); and also Psa 86:10 (cf. Psa 72:18) is a doxological formula that was already in existence. The construction הקשׁיב בּ is the same as in Psa 66:19. But although for the most part flowing on only in the language of prayer borrowed from earlier periods, this Psalm is, moreover, not without remarkable significance and beauty. With the confession of the incomparableness of the Lord is combined the prospect of the recognition of the incomparable One throughout the nations of the earth. This clear unallegorical prediction of the conversion of the heathen is the principal parallel to Rev 15:4. "All nations, which Thou hast made" - they have their being from Thee; and although they have forgotten it (vid., Psa 9:18), they will nevertheless at last come to recognise it. כּל־גּוים, since the article is wanting, are nations of all tribes (countries and nationalities); cf. Jer 16:16 with Psa 22:18; Tobit 13:11, ἔθνη πολλά, with ibid. Psa 14:6, πάντα τὰ ἔθνη. And how weightily brief and charming is the petition in Psa 86:11 : uni cor meum, ut timeat nomen tuum! Luther has rightly departed from the renderings of the lxx, Syriac, and Vulgate: laetetur (יחדּ from חדה). The meaning, however, is not so much "keep my heart near to the only thing," as "direct all its powers and concentrate them on the one thing." The following group shows us what is the meaning of the deliverance out of the hell beneath (שׁאול תּחתּיּה, like ארץ תּחתּית, the earth beneath, the inner parts of the earth, Eze 31:14.), for which the poet promises beforehand to manifest his thankfulness (כּי, Psa 86:13, as in Ps 56:14).

Psalms 86:14

psa 86:14

The situation is like that in the Psalms of the time of Saul. The writer is a persecuted one, and in constant peril of his life. He has taken Psa 86:14 out of the Elohimic Psa 54:5, and retained the Elohim as a proper name of God (cf. on the other hand Psa 86:8, Psa 86:10); he has, however, altered זרים to זרים, which here, as in Isa 13:11 (cf. however, ibid. Psa 25:5), is the alternating word to עריצים. In Psa 86:15 he supports his petition that follows by Jahve's testimony concerning Himself in Exo 34:6. The appellation given to himself by the poet in Psa 86:16 recurs in Psa 116:16 (cf. Wisd. 9:5). The poet calls himself "the son of Thy handmaid" as having been born into the relation to Him of servant; it is a relationship that has come to him by birth. How beautifully does the Adonaj come in here for the seventh time! He is even from his mother's womb the servant of the sovereign Lord, from whose omnipotence he can therefore also look for a miraculous interposition on his behalf. A "token for good" is a special dispensation, from which it becomes evident to him that God is kindly disposed towards him. לטובה as in the mouth of Nehemiah, Neh 5:19; Neh 13:31; of Ezr 8:22; and also even in Jeremiah and earlier. ויבשׁוּ is just as parenthetical as in Isa 26:11.

Next: Psalms Chapter 87