Notes (NET Translation)
The title in the LXX says the psalm was composed by David before his anointing. “LXX may invite us to think especially of the pressures Saul put on him, and may be inferring from v. 5 a link with 1 Sam. 21:1-6 [2-7].”1
1 The LORD delivers and vindicates me! I fear no one! The LORD protects my life! I am afraid of no one!
2 When evil men attack me to devour my flesh, when my adversaries and enemies attack me, they stumble and fall.
3 Even when an army is deployed against me, I do not fear. Even when war is imminent, I remain confident.
4 I have asked the LORD for one thing – this is what I desire! I want to live in the LORD’s house all the days of my life, so I can gaze at the splendor of the LORD and contemplate in his temple.
Given the OT’s hesitation about the idea of looking at Yhwh at all, the idea of looking at Yhwh’s personal delightfulness (nōʿam, EVV “beauty”) would be surprising, but the notion of looking at Yhwh’s delightfulness is clarified by the phrase’s other occurrence (90:17). It denotes the delightfulness of what Yhwh does for people rather than Yhwh’s personal being. And this enhances the parallelism of the second colon, since the request to which it refers will denote seeking after Yhwh’s intentions or will for the suppliant and the people. The line then concerns the suppliant’s visiting Yhwh’s palace to seek to see what beautiful intentions Yhwh has.2
Temple (4) is the standard word for a divine or royal residence (cf. 45:15 [ Heb. 16], ‘palace’) and need not imply that Solomon’s Temple was already built. Either this word or tent, as the place of worship (6), is being used for its associations rather than its materials (see also on Ps. 5:7), for they cannot both be literal; note too the vivid terms of verse 5, where shelter should perhaps be ‘lair’ (the same word as the lion’s ‘covert’ in 10:9; cf. also 76:2a [Heb. 3] with Amos 1:2; 3:8).3
5 He will surely give me shelter in the day of danger; he will hide me in his home; he will place me on an inaccessible rocky summit.
6 Now I will triumph over my enemies who surround me! I will offer sacrifices in his dwelling place and shout for joy! I will sing praises to the LORD!
7 Hear me, O LORD, when I cry out! Have mercy on me and answer me!
8 My heart tells me to pray to you, and I do pray to you, O LORD.
9 Do not reject me! Do not push your servant away in anger! You are my deliverer! Do not forsake or abandon me, O God who vindicates me!
10 Even if my father and mother abandoned me, the LORD would take me in.
11 Teach me how you want me to live; lead me along a level path because of those who wait to ambush me!
The psalmist is asking for God to give him the way of deliverance and victory.
12 Do not turn me over to my enemies, for false witnesses who want to destroy me testify against me.
13 Where would I be if I did not believe I would experience the LORD’s favor in the land of the living?
14 Rely on the LORD! Be strong and confident! Rely on the LORD!
The words are an answer to the prayer, not merely an injunction to wait for an answer. The answer, in other words, is to wait constantly for the Lord, because he would respond in the future as each crisis and need appeared. The intervening words (“be strong . . . be bold”) are also a part of the answer and recall the words of Moses to Joshua at the time when the leadership in the covenant community was being transferred to Joshua (cf. Deut 31:7). Joshua was to be strong and bold because the Lord was definitely going to give him success in the conquest of the Promised Land. Likewise, the king was to be strong and bold, because he would receive the divine aid in ruling his country and conquering his enemies.4
Craigie, Peter C., and Marvin E. Tate. Psalms 1-50. Nashville: Nelson Reference & Electronic, 2004.
Goldingay, John. Psalms: Volume 1: Psalms 1-41. Kindle Edition. Baker Academic, 2006.
Kidner, Derek. Psalms 1-72: An Introduction and Commentary. Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 2008.
VanGemeren, Willem. Psalms. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2008.