Notes (NET Translation)
1 To you, O LORD, I cry out! My protector, do not ignore me! If you do not respond to me, I will join those who are descending into the grave.
2 Hear my plea for mercy when I cry out to you for help, when I lift my hands toward your holy temple!
The word for the innermost sanctuary is debir (mistranslated as ‘oracle’ in AV, RV), a name which first appears, apart from here, in accounts of Solomon’s Temple. This need not mean that the psalm is later than David; only that the word had become the standard term for the ark’s abode by Solomon’s time, which suggests that it was in use well before this.1
3 Do not drag me away with evil men, with those who behave wickedly, who talk so friendly to their neighbors, while they plan to harm them!
The suppliant never quite complains about being under attack, and it may be that this plea simply concerns the possibility of being somehow caught up undeservedly in the fate that comes to faithless people deservedly, or it may imply the experience of being accused of wrongdoing, which brings that danger.2
4 Pay them back for their evil deeds! Pay them back for what they do! Punish them!
5 For they do not understand the LORD’s actions, or the way he carries out justice. The LORD will permanently demolish them.
In principle, when there has been tearing down, there can be building up, as Yhwh affirms to Jeremiah, but these people deserve to be finally put down. A paronomasia brackets the verse: because they will not consider (lōʾ yābînû), Yhwh will not build up (lōʾ yibnēm). Another paronomasia recalls the opening plea and brackets vv. 1-5 as a whole: Yhwh’s tearing down (hāras) means Yhwh has not been deaf (ḥāraš, v. 1).3
6 The LORD deserves praise, for he has heard my plea for mercy!
7 The LORD strengthens and protects me; I trust in him with all my heart. I am rescued and my heart is full of joy; I will sing to him in gratitude.
8 The LORD strengthens his people; he protects and delivers his chosen king.
9 Deliver your people! Empower the nation that belongs to you! Care for them like a shepherd and carry them in your arms at all times!
In truly theocratic fashion, the psalmist prays not only for himself but also for the people. People and king, nation and individual, belong together. He closes his prayer of lament and thanksgiving with a prayer for deliverance from oppression, for the Lord’s blessing on his own people, and for God’s royal kingship over his own. The psalmist knows that kingship belongs to the Lord and that, ultimately, the Davidic king is representative of the kingship of God. Therefore he calls on the Great King to be true to his people. They are his chosen “inheritance” (Dt 4:20; 1Ki 8:51). He is the King-Shepherd of his people (Ps 23:1; Mic 5:4; 7:14). His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. He cares for his sheep in a tender way so as to “carry them” in his arms. This imagery is reminiscent of Isaiah’s language (40:11; 46:3-4; 63:9; cf. Ex 19:4) and, of course, of the words of Jesus (Jn 10:1-18).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.