After David in the beginning of the psalm has prayed to God to help him, he immediately turns his discourse to his enemies, and depending on the promise of God, triumphs over them as a conqueror. He, therefore, teaches us by his example, that as often as we are weighed down by adversity, or involved in very great distress, we ought to meditate upon the promises of God, in which the hope of salvation is held forth to us, so that defending ourselves by this shield, we may break through all the temptations which assail us.
To the chief musician on Neginoth. A psalm of David.
It is uncertain at what time this psalm was composed. But from the tenor of it, it is conjectured, with probability, that David was then a fugitive and an exile. I therefore refer it to the time when he was persecuted by Saul. If, however, any person is disposed rather to understand it as referring to the time when he was compelled by the conspiracy of Absalom to secure his safety by flight, I will not greatly contend about the matter. But as, a little after, he uses an expression, namely, |How long?| (verse 3) which indicates that he had a lengthened struggle, the opinion which I have already brought forward is the more probable. For we know with what varied trials he was harassed, before he obtained complete deliverance, from the time when Saul began to be his enemy. Concerning the words which are contained in this verse, I shall only make one or two brief observations. Some translate the word mnth, Lamnetsah, for ever; and they say that it was the commencement of a common song, to the tune of which this psalm was composed: but this I reject as a forced translation. Others, with more truth, are of opinion, that mntsh, Menetsah, signifies one who excels and surpasses all others. But because expositors are not agreed as to the particular kind of excellence and dignity here spoken of, let it suffice, that by this word is denoted the chief master or president of the band. I do not approve of rendering the word, conqueror; for although it answers to the subject-matter of the present psalm, yet it does not at all suit other places where we shall find the same Hebrew word used. With respect to the second word, Neginoth, I think it comes from the verb ngk, Nagan, which signifies to strike or sound; and, therefore, I doubt not, but it was an instrument of music. Whence it follows, that this psalm was designed to be sung, not only with the voice, but also with musical instruments, which were presided over, and regulated by the chief musician of whom we have just now spoken.