The Treasury of David

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.

Psalm 31

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.

Psalm 31:6


I have hated them that regard lying vanities. Those who will not lean upon the true arm of strength, are sure to make to themselves vain confidences. Man must have a god, and if he will not adore the only living and true God, he makes a fool of himself, and pays superstitious regard to a lie, and waits with anxious hope upon a base delusion. Those who did this were none of David’s friends; he had a constant dislike to them: the verb includes the present as well as the past tense. He hated them for hating God; he would not endure the presence of idolaters; his heart was set against them for their stupidity and wickedness. He had no patience with their superstitious observances, and calls their idols vanities of emptiness, nothings of nonentity. Small courtesy is more than Romanists and Puseyists deserve for their fooleries. Men who make gods of their riches, their persons, their wits, or anything else, are to be shunned by those whose faith rests upon God in Christ Jesus; and so far from being envied, they are to be pitied as depending upon utter vanities. But I trust in the Lord. This might be very unfashionable, but the psalmist dared to be singular. Bad example should not make us less decided for the truth, but the rather in the midst of general defection we should grow the more bold. This adherence to his trust in Jehovah is the great plea employed all along: the troubled one flies into the arms of his God, and ventures everything upon the divine faithfulness.

Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings

I have hated. Holy men have strong passions, and are not so mincing and charitable towards evil doers as smooth tongued latitudinarians would have them. He who does not hate evil does not love good. There is such a thing as a good hater.—C. H. S

They that regard lying vanities. The Romanists feign miracles of the saints to make them, as they suppose, the more glorious. They say that the house wherein the Virgin Mary was when the angel Gabriel came unto her was, many hundred years after, translated, first, out of Galilee into Dalmatia, above 2,000 miles, and thence over the sea into Italy, where also it removed from one place to another, till at length it found a place where to abide, and many most miraculous cures, they say, were wrought by it, and that the very trees when it came, did bow unto it. Infinite stories they have of this nature, especially in the Legend of Saints, which they call “The Golden Legend, “a book so full of gross stuff that Ludovicus Vives, a Papist, but learned and ingenuous, with great indignations cried out, “What can be more abominable than that book?” and he wondered why they should call it “golden, “when as he that wrote it was a man “of an iron mouth and of a leaden heart.” And Melchior Canus, a Romish bishop, passed the same censure upon that book, and complains (as Vives also had done before him), that Laertius wrote the lives of philosophers, and Suetonius the lives of the Caesars, more sincerely than some did the lives of the saints and martyrs. They are most vain and superstitious in the honour which they give to the relics of the saints; as their dead bodies, or some parts of them; their bones, flesh, hair; yea, their clothes that they wore, or the like. “You may now, everywhere, “saith Erasmus, “see held out for gain, “Mary’s milk, which they honour almost as much as Christ’s consecrated body; prodigious oil; so many pieces of the cross, that if they were all gathered together a great ship would scarce carry them. Here Francis’s hood set forth to view; there the innermost garment of the Virgin Mary; in one place, Anna’s comb; in another place, Joseph’s stocking; in another place, Thomas of Canterbury’s shoe; in another place, Christ’s foreskin, which, though it be a thing uncertain, they worship more religiously than Christ’s whole person. Neither do they bring forth these things as things that may be tolerated, and to please the common people, but all religion almost is placed in them. (Erasmus, on Matthew 23:5). Christopher Cartwright.

The sense lies thus, that heathen men, when any danger or difficulty approacheth them, are solemnly wont to apply themselves to auguries and divinations, and so to false gods, to receive advice and direction from them: but doing so and observing their responses most superstitiously, they yet gain nothing at all by it. These David detests, and keeps close to God, hoping for no aid but from him. H. Hammond, D.D.

Hints to the Village Preacher

Holy detestation, as a virtue discriminated from bigotry: or, the good hater.
The Treasury of David.

Singing psalms


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