6. Arise, O Jehovah, in thine anger, lift up thyself against the rage of mine enemies; and awake thou for me to the judgment which thou hast ordained. 7. And then the assembly of peoples [or nations] shall compass thee about: and on account of this, return thou on high.8. Jehovah shall judge the peoples, [or nations:] judge me, O Jehovah, according to my righteousness, and according to the integrity that is in me.
6 Arise, O Jehovah David here sets the anger of God in opposition to the rage of his enemies; and when we are in similar circumstances we should act in the same manner. When the ungodly are inflamed against us, and cast forth their rage and fury to destroy us, we ought humbly to beseech God to be inflamed also on his side; in other words, to show in truth that he has, no less zeal and power to preserve us, than they have inclination to destroy us. The word, Arise, is taken in a figurative sense, for to ascend into a judgment-seat, or rather to prepare one's self to make resistance; and it is here applied to God, because, while he delays to succour us, we are very apt to think him asleep. Accordingly, David also, a little after, beseeches him to awake; for it seemed on the part of God something like the forgetfulness of sleep to give no assistance to an individual who was so much afflicted and oppressed on all hands.
In the end of the verse he shows that he asks nothing but what is according to the appointment of God. And this is the rule which ought to be observed by us in our prayers; we should in every thing conform our requests to the divine will, as John also instructs us, (1 John 5:14.) And, indeed, we can never pray in faith unless we attend, in the first place, to what God commands, that our minds may not rashly and at random start aside in desiring more than we are permitted to desire and pray for. David, therefore, in order to pray aright, reposes himself on the word and prose mise of God; and the import of his exercise is this: Lord, I am not led by ambition, or foolish headstrong passion, or depraved desire, inconsiderately to ask from thee whatever is pleasing to my flesh; but it is the clear light of thy word which directs me, and upon it I securely depend. Since God, of his own good pleasure, had called him to be one day king, it belonged to him to defend and maintain the rights of the man whom he had chosen for his servant. David's language, therefore, is the same as if he had said, |When I was well contented with my humble condition in private life, it was thy pleasure to set me apart to the honourable station of being a king; now, therefore, it belongs to thee to maintain this cause against Saul and his associates who are using their efforts to defeat thy decree in making war upon me.| The Hebrew word vrh, urah, which we have rendered awake thou, might also be taken transitively for to build up, or to establish the right of David. The sum of the whole, however, comes to this, that David, trusting to the call of God, beseeches him to stretch forth his hand for his relief. The faithful must, therefore, take care not to exceed these bounds, if they desire to have God present with them to maintain and preserve them.
7 And a congregation of peoples Some limit this sentence exclusively to the people of Israel, as if David promised that, as soon as he should ascend the throne, he would endeavour to reunite together, in the pure worship of God, the people who before had been as it were in a state of dispersion. Under the reign of Saul, religion had been neglected, or such an unrestrained license in wickedness had prevailed, that few paid any regard to God. The meaning, therefore, according to these expositors, is this: Lord, when thou shalt have constituted me king, the whole people, who have so basely gone astray from thee, shall return from their wanderings and disorderly courses to thee and to thy service, so that all shall know that thou rulest in the midst of them, and shall worship thee as their only King. But I am rather inclined to view this as language which has a respect in common to many nations. David here speaks in high terms of the effects resulting from his deliverance, the report of which would be spread far and wide, and his words are, as if he had said, |Lord, when thou shalt have put me in peaceable possession of the kingdom, this will not only be a benefit conferred on me personally, but it will be a common lesson to many nations, teaching them to acknowledge thy just judgment, so that they shall turn their eyes to thy judgment-seat.| David here alludes to the practice of a people who surround their king, as in a circle, when he holds a solemn assembly. In the same sense, he adds immediately after, that God, who, for a time, lay still and kept silence, would raise himself on high that not only one or two, but whole nations, might behold his glory: And on account of this return thou on high There is in these words, a tacit comparison, that although it might not be necessary to have a regard to one man alone, it is requisite that God should keep the world in the fear and reverence of his judgment.
8 Jehovah shall judge the nations This sentence is closely connected with the preceding verse. David had prayed God to show himself as judge to the nations; and now he takes it for a certain and admitted truth, that it is the peculiar office of God to judge the nations: for the word put in the future tense, and rendered shall judge, denotes here a continued act; and this is the signification of the future tense in general sentences. Besides, he does not here speak of one nation only, but comprehends all nations. As he acknowledges God to be the judge of the whole world, he concludes a little after from this, that he will maintain his cause and right. And as often as we seem to be forsaken and oppressed, we should recall this truth to our remembrance, that as God is the governor of the world, it is as utterly impossible for him to abdicate his office as to deny himself. From this source there will flow a continual stream of comfort, although a long succession of calamities may press upon us: for from this truth we may assuredly conclude, that he will take care to defend our innocence. It would be contrary to every principle of just reasoning to supposes that he who governs many nations neglects even one man. What happens with respect to the judges of this world can never take place with respect to him; he cannot, as may be the case with them, be so occupied about great and public affairs as to neglect, because unable to attend to them, the concerns of individuals. He again brings into new his integrity that he may not seem, after the example of hypocrites to make the name of God a mere pretext for the better furthering of his own purposes. Since God is no respecter of persons, we cannot expect him to be on our side, and to favour us, if our cause is not good. But it is asked, how can David here boast of his own integrity before God, when in other places he deprecates God entering into judgment with him? The answer is easy, and it is this: The subject here treated of is not how he could answer if God should demand from him an account of his whole life; but, comparing himself with his enemies, he maintains and not without cause, that, in respect of them, he was righteous. But when each saint passes under the review of God's judgment, and his own character is tried upon its own merits, the matter is very different, for then the only sanctuary to which he can betake himself for safety, is the mercy of God.