top of page

Psalm 28

AS in the preceding psalm, a righteous sufferer prays that he may not be confounded with the wicked whom his soul abhors, so here a like prayer is offered by the Anointed of Jehovah. He first prays in general for audience and acceptance, without which he must quickly perish, ver. 1, 2. He then asks to be distinguished from the wicked in the infliction of God’s judgments, ver. 3–5. He then gives thanks for the anticipated answer to his prayer, ver. 6–8, and implores an extension of the blessing to all God’s people at all times, ver. 9. The collocation of the psalm is clearly not fortuitous, but founded on its close resemblance to the one before it.

1. By David. Unto thee, Jehovah, will I call; my rock, be not silent from me, lest thou hold thy peace from me, and I be made like to those going down (into) the pit. My rock, the immoveable foundation of my hope and object of my trust. See above, on Ps. 18:3, 32 (2, 31), 19:15 (14). That God is such affords a sufficient reason for the importunate demands which follow. It is inconsistent with the relation he sustains to those who trust him, that he should be silent when they pray, i.e. refuse to answer. The ideas of distance and estrangement are really implied in being silent, and suggested by the pregnant construction silent from. The meaning of the last clause is correctly given, with a change of idiom, in the English version, lest, if thou be silent, &c. The passive verb does not merely mean to be like, but to be made like, assimilated, confounded. The pit, the grave, both in its narrower and wider sense. (Compare Isa. 14:15, 19.) Those going down into the pit is a common description of the dead. See Ps. 30:4 (3), 88:5 (4), and compare Ps. 22:30 (29).

2. Hear the voice of my supplications, in my crying unto thee (for help); in my lifting up my hands to thy holy oracle. In my crying, in my lifting, i.e. at the time of my so doing, when I am in the very act. The lifting up of the hands is a natural symbol of the raising of the heart or the desires to God, and is therefore often mentioned in connection with the act of prayer. Exod. 9:29, 17:11, 12, 1 Kings 8:22, 54, Lam. 2:19, 3:41, Ps. 63:5 (4).—The word translated oracle is derived from the verb to speak, and seems to mean a place of speaking or conversation, like the English parlor from the French parler. Now we learn from Exod. 25:22, Num. 7:89, that the place whence God talked with Moses was the inner apartment of the tabernacle; and from 1 Kings 6:19, that the corresponding part of the temple bore the name here used. To this, as the depository of the ark and the earthly residence of God, the ancient saints looked as we look now to Christ, in whom the idea of the Mosaic sanctuary has been realized. See above, on Ps. 5:8 (7).

3. Draw me not away with wicked (men), and with workers of iniquity, speaking peace with their neighbors, and evil (is) in their heart. This is the prayer for which he bespeaks audience and acceptance in the foregoing verse. Draw me not away, i.e. to punishment or out of life. Compare Ps. 26:9, where the parallel expression is gather me not. In both cases he prays that he may not be confounded in his death with those whose life he abhors. The last clause exhibits a particular trait in the character of the wicked men and evil doers of the other clause. This trait is hypocritical dissimulation, the pretense of friendship as a mask to hatred. The simple construction with the copulative and is equivalent to our expressions, but, though, while, &c.

4. Give to them according to their act, and according to the evil of their deeds, according to the work of their hands give thou to them; return their treatment to them. Having prayed that he may not share the destruction of the wicked, he now prays that they may not escape it. But as this is merely asking God to act as a just and holy being must act, the charge of vindictive cruelty is not merely groundless, but absurd.—The evil of their deeds is a phrase borrowed from Moses (Deut. 28:20), and often repeated by Jeremiah (4:4, 21:12, 23:2, 22, 26:3, 44:22). The same prophet has combined two of the phrases here employed in Jer. 25:14, and Lam. 3:64. The word translated treatment is a participle meaning that which is done by one person to another, whether good or evil. See above, on Ps. 7:5 (4).

5. Because they will not attend to the acts of Jehovah and to the doing of his hands, he will pull them down and will not build them up. Having appealed to the divine justice for a righteous recompence of these offenders, he now shews what they have deserved and must experience, by shewing what they have done, or rather not done. The acts of Jehovah and the works of his hands are common expressions for his penal judgments. See Ps. 64:10 (9), 92:5 (4), Isa. 5:12, 28:21, 29:23.—Pull down and not build up, is an idiomatic combination of positive and negative terms to express the same idea.—Build, therefore, does not mean rebuild, but is simply the negative or opposite of pull down. The form of expression is copied repeatedly by Jeremiah (31:28, 42:10, 45:4.) See also Job 12:14.

6. Blessed (be) Jehovah, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications. What he asked in ver. 2 he has now obtained, or at least the assurance of a favorable answer, in the confident anticipation of which he begins already to bless God. The word translated supplications means, according to its etymology, prayers for grace or mercy.

7. Jehovah, my strength and my shield! In him has my heart trusted, and I have been helped, and my heart shall exult, and by my song I will thank (or praise) him. The construction of the first clause as a proposition, by supplying the substantive verb, Jehovah (is) my strength and my shield, is unnecessary, and neither so simple nor so strong as that which makes it a grateful and admiring exclamation.—My heart is twice used in this sentence to express the deep and cordial nature of the exercises which he is describing. The same heart that trusted now rejoices. As he believed with all his heart, so now he rejoices in like manner.—By my song, literally from or out of it, as the source and the occasion of his praise. Compare Ps. 22:26 (25).

8. Jehovah (is) strength to them, and a stronghold of salvation (to) his Anointed (is) He. The Psalmist having spoken hitherto not only for himself but for the people, here insensibly substitutes the third person plural for the first person singular. In the last clause he reverts to himself, but with the use of an expression which discloses his relation to the people, of which he was not only a member but the delegated head, the Anointed of Jehovah. See above, on Ps. 2:2. A stronghold. See above on Ps. 27:1.—Salvations, full salvation. See above on Ps. 18:51 (50). The personal pronoun at the end of the sentence is emphatic, and intended to concentrate the attention upon one great object.

9. Oh save thy people, and bless thy heritage, and feed them, and carry (or exalt them) even to eternity! The whole psalm closes with a prayer that the relation now subsisting between God and his people may continue for ever. Thy heritage, thy peculiar people, whom thou dost preserve and treat as such from generation to generation. The idea and expression are Mosaic. See Deut. 9:29, and compare Ps. 33:12, 68:10 (9), 94:5. The image then merges into that of a shepherd and his flock, a favorite one with David and throughout the later scriptures. See above, on Ps. 23:1.—Feed them, not only in the strict sense, but in that of doing the whole duty of a shepherd. The next verb is by some translated carry them, in which sense the primitive is elsewhere used in speaking of a shepherd (Isa. 40:11), and this very form appears to have the same sense in Isa. 63:9, while in 2 Sam. 5:12 it is applied to the exaltation of David himself as a theocratic sovereign.

Alexander, J. A. (1864). The Psalms Translated and Explained (pp. 123–125). Andrew Elliot; James Thin. (Public Domain)

11 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page