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Commentary on Psalms - Volume 1
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Psalm 17:5-6

5. Uphold my steps in thy paths, that the soles of my feet may not slide. 6. I have called upon thee, surely thou wilt hear me, O God; incline thine ear unto me, and hear my words.

 

5. Uphold my steps. If we take God’s paths for the precepts of his law, the sense will be evident, namely, that although David had spoken according to truth, in boasting of having, in the midst of the most grievous temptations which assailed him, constantly practiced righteousness with a pure heart, yet, conscious of his own weakness, he commits himself to God to be governed by him, and prays for grace to enable him to persevere. His language is as if he had said, Since hitherto, under thy guidance, I have proceeded onward in the right path, I beseech thee, in like manner, to keep my steps from sliding with respect to the time to come. And certainly the more any one excels in grace, 356356     “Et de faict, selon qu’un chacun a receu plus de graces.” — Fr. “And certainly the more grace any one has received.” the more ought he to be afraid of falling; for it is the usual policy of Satan to endeavor, even from the virtue and strength which God has given us, 357357     “De la vertu et force que Dieu nous aura donnee.” — Fr. to produce in us carnal confidence which may induce carelessness. I do not altogether reject this sense, but I think it more probable that David here beseeches God to bring his affairs to a prosperous issue, however dark the aspect of matters was at present. The import of his language is this, Lord, since thou seest that I walk in uprightness and sincerity of heart, govern thou me in such a manner as to make all men see that thou art my protector and guardian, and leave me not to be cast down at the will of my enemies. Thus, by the paths of the Lord, he will mean not the doctrine by which our life is regulated, but the power by which God upholds us, and the protection by which he preserves us. And he addresses God in this manner, not only because all events are in his hand, but because when he takes care of us all things in our lot go on prosperously. When he adds, that the soles of my feet may not slide, he refers to the many adverse events which threaten us every moment, and to the danger we are in of perishing, if not sustained by the hand of God.

6. I have called upon thee, etc. This verb being put in the past tense denotes a continued act; and, therefore, it includes the present time. The Hebrew word כי, ki, which we translate surely, often signifies because, and if it is so understood in this passage, the meaning will be, that David took encouragement to pray, because, depending upon the promise of God, he hoped that his prayers would not be in vain. But, perhaps, it may be thought preferable to change the tense of the verb as some do, so as to give this meaning, I will pray, because I have hitherto experienced that thou hast heard 358358     The Septuagint renders the verb in the past tense, “Επηκουσας μου,” “Thou hast heard me.” The Syriac and Vulgate give a similar rendering. The verb, in the Hebrew, is in the future; but it is a common thing in Hebrew to use the future tense for the past. my prayers. I have, however, chosen the exposition what appears to me the more simple. David, in my judgment, here encourages and animates himself to call upon God, from the confident hope of being heard, as if he had said, Since I call upon thee, surely, O God, thou wilt not despise my prayers. Immediately after he beseeches God to bestow upon him the blessings of which he told us he entertained an assured hope.


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