The Treasury of David is one of several C.H. Spurgeon books that are in the public domain. If you propose to study the Psalms, I suggest you download this as a companion for your other references.
Title. To the Chief Musician—a Psalm of David. The dedication to the chief musician proves that this song of mingled measures and alternate strains of grief and woe was intended for public singing, and thus a deathblow is given to the notion that nothing but praise should be sung. Perhaps the Psalms, thus marked, might have been set aside as too mournful for temple worship, if special care had not been taken by the Holy Spirit to indicate them as being designed for the public edification of the Lord’s people. May there not also be in Psalms thus designated a peculiar distinct reference to the Lord Jesus? He certainly manifests himself very clearly in the twenty-second, which bears this title; and in the one before us we plainly hear his dying voice in the fifth verse. Jesus is chief everywhere, and in all the holy songs of his saints he is the chief musician. The surmises that Jeremiah penned this Psalm need no other answer than the fact that it is “a Psalm of David.”
Subject. The psalmist in dire affliction appeals to his God for help with much confidence and holy importunity, and ere long finds his mind so strengthened that he magnifies the Lord for his great goodness. Some have thought that the occasion in his troubled life which led to this Psalm, was the treachery of the men of Keilah, and we have felt much inclined to this conjecture; but after reflection it seems to us that its very mournful tone, and its allusion to his iniquity demand a later date, and it may be more satisfactory to illustrate it by the period when Absalom had rebelled, and his courtiers were fled from him, while lying lips spread a thousand malicious rumours against him. It is perhaps quite as well that we have no settled season mentioned, or we might have been so busy in applying it to David’s case as to forget its suitability to our own.
Division. There are no great lines of demarcation; throughout the strain undulates, falling into valleys of mourning, and rising with hills of confidence. However, we may for convenience arrange it thus: David testifying his confidence in God pleads for help, Psalms 31:1-6; expresses gratitude for mercies received, Psalms 31:7-8; particularly describes his case, Psalms 31:9-13; vehemently pleads for deliverance, Psalms 31:14-18; confidently and thankfully expects a blessing, Psalms 31:19-22; and closes by showing the bearing of his case upon all the people of God.
The Treasury of David.
For thou art my rock and my fortress. Here the tried soul avows yet again its full confidence in God. Faith’s repetitions are not vain. The avowal of our reliance upon God in times of adversity is a principle method of glorifying him. Active service is good, but the passive confidence of faith is not one jot less esteemed in the sight of God. The words before us appear to embrace and fasten upon the Lord with a fiducial grip which is not to be relaxed. The two personal pronouns, like sure nails, lay hold upon the faithfulness of the Lord. O for grace to have our heart fixed in firm unstaggering belief in God! The figure of a rock and a fortress may be illustrated to us in these times by the vast fortress of Gibraltar, often besieged by our enemies, but never wrested from us: ancient strongholds, though far from impregnable by our modes of warfare, were equally important in those remoter ages—when in the mountain fastnesses, feeble bands felt themselves to be secure. Note the singular fact that David asked the Lord to be his rock Psalms 31:2 because he was his rock; and learn from it that we may pray to enjoy in experience what we grasp by faith. Faith is the foundation of prayer. Therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me. The psalmist argues like a logician with his fors and therefores. Since I do sincerely trust thee, saith he, O my God, be my director. To lead and to guide are two things very like each other, but patient thought will detect different shades of meaning, especially as the last may mean provide for me. The double word indicates an urgent need—we require double direction, for we are fools, and the way is rough. Lead me as a soldier, guide me as a traveller! lead me as a babe, guide me as a man; lead me when thou art with me, but guide me even if thou be absent; lead me by thy hand, guide me by thy word. The argument used is one which is fetched from the armoury of free grace: not for my own sake, but for thy name’s sake guide me. Our appeal is not to any fancied virtue in our own names, but to the glorious goodness and graciousness which shines resplendent in the character of Israel’s God. It is not possible that the Lord should suffer his own honour to be tarnished, but this would certainly be the case if those who trusted him should perish. This was Moses’ plea, “What wilt thou do unto thy great name?”
See Psalms on “Psalms 31:1“ for further information.
Ver. 2-3. Be thou my strong rock, etc. What the Lord is engaged to be unto us by covenant, we may pray and expect to find him in effect. Be thou my strong rock, saith he, for thou art my rock. David Dickson.
For thy name’s sake. If merely a creature’s honour, the credit of ministers, or the glory of angels were involved, man’s salvation would indeed be uncertain. But every step involves the honour of God. We plead for his name’s sake. If God should begin and not continue, or if he should carry on but not complete the work, all would admit that it was for some reason that must bring reproach on the Almighty. This can never be. God was self moved to undertake man’s salvation. His glorious name makes it certain the top stone shall be laid in glory. William S. Plumer.
For thy name’s sake. On account of the fame of thy power, thy goodness, thy truth, &c. Lead me. As a shepherd an erring sheep, as a leader military bands, or as one leads another ignorant of the way. See Genesis 24:27 Nehemiah 9:12-13 Psalms 23:3, 73:24. Govern my counsels, my affections, and my thoughts.—Martin Geier, 1614-1681.
Ver. 2-3. (last and first clauses). That which we have we may yet seek for.
Work out the metaphor of God as a rocky fastness of the soul.
The Treasury of David.
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