The former part of this psalm is the prayer of one in distress. The latter part is the thanksgiving of a triumphant saint who had been delivered. Added to it is a prophetical prayer for all God’s faithful loyal subjects.
Psalm 28 – A Psalm of David
To You, O LORD, I call; be not deaf to me, O my Rock. For if You remain silent, I will be like those descending to the Pit. Hear my cry for mercy when I call to You for help, when I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary. Do not drag me away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, who speak peace to their neighbours while malice is in their hearts. Repay them according to their deeds and for their works of evil. Repay them for what their hands have done; bring back on them what they deserve. Since they show no regard for the works of the LORD or what His hands have done, He will tear them down and never rebuild them.
Blessed be the LORD, for He has heard my cry for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart rejoices, and I give thanks to Him with my song. The LORD is the strength of His people, a stronghold of salvation for His anointed. Save Your people and bless Your inheritance; Shepherd them and carry them forever.
He is a Rock
Henry says – In these verses David prays that in his distress God would graciously hear and answer him. He starts with: O Lord, my rock, signifying his belief in God’s power (He is a rock) and his dependence upon that power—“He is my rock, on Whom I build my hope.” He was in earnest, as though ready to sink, unless God would come in with immediate assistance.” Lord, speak to me, answer me with good and comfortable words (Zech. 1:13). Though the thing I pray for has not been given me, yet let God speak to me with joy and gladness, and cause me to hear Him.
David expresses that he would be in despair if God slighted him: “If You be silent to me, and I do not have the tokens of Your favour, I am like those who go down into the pit (that is, I am a dead man, lost and undone). If God is not my friend then my hope and help will have perished.” Nothing can be so cutting, so killing, to a gracious soul, as the desire for God’s favour and the sense of His displeasure. I shall be like those who go down to hell. For this is the misery of the damned that God be ever silent to them and deaf to their cry.
Through Him all good comes
Those who have a dread of God’s wrath are in some measure qualified for His favour, and may expect it. David was hopeful that God would favour him: I lift up my hands towards Your holy place, which denotes an earnest expectation to receive an answer of peace. The most holy place within the veil is here called the oracle; there stood the ark and the mercy-seat. That is where God was said to dwell between the cherubim, and from there He spoke to His people, Num. 7:89.
The mercy seat was a type of Christ, and it is to Him that we must lift up our eyes and hands. Through Him all good comes from God to us. The scriptures are called the oracles of God, and to them we must have an eye in our prayers and expectations. We are taught to expect an answer to our prayers from God as our Father in heaven. We have the Word on which God has encouraged us to hope.
Good men dread the way of sinners
David declares the doom of wicked. Lord do not draw me away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity,” Ps. 28:3. “Save me from being entangled in the snares they have laid for me. They flatter and cajole me, and speak peace to me; but mischief is in their heart. They aim to destroy me. Lord do not let me be drawn away and ruined by their plots. They can have no power or success against me unless it be given to them from above. Save me from being infected with their sins and from doing as they do. Good men dread the way of sinners. The best of them are aware of the danger of being drawn aside into it. Therefore we should all pray earnestly to God for His grace to keep us from wrong paths.
Save me from being involved in their doom for I am not one of those who speak peace while war is in their hearts. Those who are careful not to partake with sinners have reason to hope that they shall not partake with them in their plagues, Rev. 18:4. David incurs the just judgments of God on the workers of iniquity (Ps. 28:4): Give them according to their deeds. This is not the language of passion or revenge, nor is it inconsistent with the duty of praying for our enemies. David here is showing how far he was from complying with their works. He was convinced that they would be dealt with according to their deeds and so condemned.
Zeal for the honour of God’s justice
David is expressing his zeal for the honour of God’s justice. “Lord, they think all is well with what they do, and justify themselves. Lord, give them according to the work of their hands, and punish them,” Ps. 94:1, 2. This prayer is a prophecy that God will, sooner or later, give to all unrepentant sinners according to their just deserts. “They speak peace to their neighbours, but mischief is in their hearts; Lord, give them according to their deeds. See Isa. 33:1; Rev. 18:6; Rev. 13:10. If God go by this rule in dealing with the wicked, surely He will do so in dealing with the righteous. He will reward them for the good they have done and for the good they have endeavoured to do, though they could not accomplish it.
His handiworks declare His glory
Why do men forget God, and live without him and live in rebellion against Him? because they do not consider the instances of His wrath which is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness. Why do the enemies of God’s people hate and persecute them, and devise trouble against them? Because they do not regard what God has worked for His church, which demonstrates how dear it is to Him. See Isa. 5:12. Why do men question the being or attributes of God? Because they do not regard His handiworks, which declare His glory.
In verse 6, David gives God affectionate thanks for the audience of his prayers: Blessed be the Lord, Ps. 28:6. A saints’ sorrows are quickly turned into songs and their prayers into praises! It was in faith that David prayed (Ps. 28:2), Hear the voice of my petitions and by the same faith he gives thanks that God has heard him. Those who pray in faith may rejoice in hope. “He has heard me and graciously accepted me. I am as sure of a real answer as if I have it already.” What we win by prayer we must wear by praise. Has God heard our prayers? Let us then bless His name.
My heart trusts in Him
David encourages himself to hope in God for the perfecting of everything that concerned him. Having given God the glory, he is bold to take the comfort of it, Ps. 28:7. This is the method of attaining our peace. Let us first bless God and then bless ourselves. David had full dependence on God: “The Lord is my strength, to support me, and carry me on, through all my services and sufferings. He is my shield, to protect me from all the malicious plans of my enemies against me. I have chosen Him to be so, I have always found Him to be so, and I expect He will continue to be so.”
He experienced the benefits of that dependence: “My heart trusted in Him, and in His power and promise. It has not been in vain, for I am helped. Not only has God given to me the help I have trusted Him for, but the very act of my trusting in Him has helped me and kept me from fainting.” Ps. 27:13. Therefore my heart greatly rejoices. The joy of a believer is seated in the heart. It is great joy, joy unspeakable and full of glory. The heart that truly believes shall in due time greatly rejoice. It is in the joy and peace in believing that we are to expect an answer. When my heart greatly rejoices, with my song will I praise Him. We must we express our gratitude; it is the least we can do.
The Lord is their strength
Through Christ, all believers can have the benefit of saying (Ps. 28:8): “The Lord is their strength. The saints rejoice in their friends’ comforts as well as their own. This is our communion with all saints, that God is our strength and Christ our Lord, 1 Cor. 1:2. He is their strength, because He is the saving strength of His anointed. God, in strengthening David, was his King and fought his battles which strengthened the whole kingdom. David calls himself God’s anointed because it was this that exposed him to the envy of his enemies, and therefore entitled him to Divine protection.
This Psalm further shows how David was an anti-type of Christ, his Messiah. God was his saving strength. He qualified him for his undertaking and carried him through them; see Ps. 89:21; Isa. 49:5; 50:7, 9. Likewise God is the strength of all the saints. God strengthened Christ who is the church’s head, and from Him diffuses strength to all the members. He has commanded His strength, and so strengthens what He has fashioned for us; Ps. 68:28; 80:17-18.
We are Your people
David concludes with a short but comprehensive prayer for the church of God, Ps. 28:9. He prays for Israel, not as his people but, “Yours.” He was more interested in the fact that they were God’s people than his own as king. We are Your people is a good plea, Isa. 64:9; Isa. 63:19. I am Yours, save me. God’s people are His inheritance, dear to Him, and precious in His eyes. What little glory He has from this world, He has from them. The Lord’s portion is His people.
He begs God that He would save them from their enemies and the dangers they were exposed to. That He would bless them with all good, flowing from His favour. That they would be blessed according to His promise, supplying them with much happiness. He prays that He would feed them, bless them with plenty, especially the plenty of his decrees, which are food to the soul. Rule them O Lord: “Direct their counsels and actions and overrule their affairs for good. Feed them, and rule them with leaders who shall oversee them with wisdom and understanding.”
They shall be saved, blessed, and lifted up forever
He prays that He would lift them up for ever, out of their troubles and distresses. Not only for them but for His people in every age to come, even to the end. “Lift them up into Your glorious Kingdom, lift them up as high as heaven.” There, and there only, will the saints be lifted up for ever, never more to sink or be depressed. Those, and those only, whom God feeds and rules, who are willing to be taught, guided and governed, by Him shall be saved, blessed, and lifted up forever.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
[Slide right to left] An attitude of Praise What’s the worst things that can happen to you? Does a picture form in your mind? Can you imagine yourself responding to it with praise? It’s not easy, we both will find. Are you inclined to be resentful? Do you so easily get annoyed? How do you respond when something you value Is taken away; lost or destroyed? Unless you can be truly thankful Insecurity in your heart will reign, Joy at all times; in all things Then you will experience no pain. Do all those things you might count as profit? Do you now reckon as loss? Is the centre of your life, The picture of Jesus on the Cross? By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer for the Day
Prayer: Father, I come to You. I declare that You are my rock and I am dependent upon You. It is on You that I build my hope. Even though not all the things I have prayed for have been given me, yet speak to me with joy and gladness. May I always reverentially fear Your wrath and be qualified for Your favour, and so expect it. I lift up my hands towards heaven and I know I will receive an answer of peace.
I apply my prayers to the mercy seat where Christ sits and it is to Him that I lift up my eyes and hands. For I know that through Him all good comes. Help me to have an eye to the Holy scriptures in my prayers and expectations. Thank you for the Word on which You have encouraged me to hope. I am aware of the danger of being drawn aside into wrong paths. I pray earnestly for Your grace to keep me from them.
Remind me to pray for my enemies
Remind me to pray for my those who oppose me. Turn my sorrow into songs and my prayers into praises! Cause me to pray in faith that I may rejoice in hope. When You give an answer to my prayers, let me then bless Your name. What little glory You have from this world, I declare that You shall have from me. Intensify my gratitude for all I have.
I will hope in You for the perfecting of everything that concerns me. And so I take comfort in it. For in this is peace. You are my strength, to support me, and carry me on, through all my sufferings. You are my shield, to protect me from all the malicious plans of the enemy. My heart trusts in You, and in Your power and promise. The very act of my trusting in You has helped me and kept me from fainting.
It is in the joy and peace in believing
It is in the joy and peace in believing that I can expect an answer. For I know that the heart that truly believes shall in due time greatly rejoice. Remind me to express my gratitude for it is the least I can do. You are the strength of all the saints. We are Your people. Your people are Your inheritance, dear to You, and precious in Your eyes. For Your portion is Your people.
I pray that You would bless Your saints with all good, flowing from Your favour. That they would be blessed according to Your promise and supplied with much happiness. Please feed us, bless us with plenty, especially from Your Word, which is food to the soul. Lift us up out of our troubles and distresses. May we be those whom You feed and rule. May we be always willing to be taught, guided and governed by You. That we be saved, blessed and lifted up forever. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.
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