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Commentary On Psalms Volume 2 by Jean Calvin

Psalm 54:1-3

1. Save me, O God! by thy name, and judge me by thy strength.2. Hear my prayer, O God! give ear to the words of my mouth.3. For strangers are risen up against me, and the terrible ones have sought after my soul they have not set God before them. Selah.

1. Save me, O God! As David was at this time placed beyond the reach of human assistance, he must be understood as praying to be saved by the name and the power of God, In an emphatical sense, or by these in contradistinction to the usual means of deliverance. Though all help must ultimately come from God, there are ordinary methods by which he generally extends it. When these fail, and every earthly stay is removed, he must then take the work into his own hands. It was in such a situation that David here fled to the saints' last asylum, and sought to be saved by a miracle of divine power. By appealing, in the second part of the verse, to God as his judge, he asserts his uprightness. And it must strike us all, that in asking the divine protection it is indispensably prerequisite we should be convinced of the goodness of our cause, as it would argue the greatest profanity in any to expect that God should patronise iniquity. David was encouraged to pray for deliverance by the goodness of his cause and his consciousness of integrity; nor did he entertain a single doubt, that on representing this to God he would act the part of his defender, and punish the cruelty and treachery of his enemies.

2. Hear my prayer, O God! The language is expressive of his earnestness. He was led to this fervor of supplication by the extremity of his present circumstances, which is alluded to in the following verse, where he complains of being surrounded by men fierce, barbarous, and unrestrained by a sense of religion. There was no necessity for his informing God of a fact which was already known to him; but he disburdens his own heart by venting the cause of his fear and disquietude. By calling his enemies strangers, he seems to refer to their barbarity, whether he applied the name to the Ziphites only, or, in general, to the whole army of Saul. Others consider him, in this term, to advert to their degeneracy as children of Abraham; and it is true that the Jews are repeatedly stigmatised by the prophets under this form of expression, when they had cast themselves out of the Church of God by their profligacy or impiety. But in this passage it seems to be used in a different sense. As even enemies are accustomed, in some measure, to respect the ties of kindred and relationship, David would point out to us the monstrous inhumanity of the men who now surrounded him, by the fact that they assaulted him as strangers, as persons who had never known him, or as if he had been born in some distant part of the world. He calls them, also, terrible ones, not mighty, or powerful ones, as some have rendered the word; for that falls short of the meaning intended by David, which was, that they were divested of all humanity, and ready to rush upon him like wild beasts. Hence the fear with which he resorted to the protection of God. He adds, that they sought after his soul, to denote that nothing would content their insatiable cruelty but his life. And the better to express the unbridled nature of their fury, he tells us that they had no respect to God. The only thing which could be supposed, in the circumstances, to act as a restraint upon their minds, was the consideration of there being a judge in heaven to whom they were amenable for their conduct; and being insensible to this, what moderation could be expected of them?

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