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 31:22


Ver. 19-22. Being full of faith, the psalmist gives glory to God for the mercy which he is assured will be his position.

Confession of faults is always proper; and when we reflect upon the goodness of God, we ought to be reminded of our own errors and offences. For I said in my haste. We generally speak amiss when we are in a hurry. Hasty words are but for a moment on the tongue, but they often lie for years on the conscience. I am cut off from before thine eyes. This was an unworthy speech; but unbelief will have a corner in the heart of the firmest believer, and out of that corner it will vent many spiteful things against the Lord if the course of providence be not quite so smooth as nature might desire. No saint ever was, or ever could be, cut off from before the eyes of God, and yet no doubt many have thought so, and more than one has said so. For ever be such dark suspicions banished from our minds. Nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee. What a mercy that if we believe not, yet God abideth faithful, hearing prayer even when we are labouring under doubts which dishonour his name. If we consider the hindrances in the way of our prayers, and the poor way in which we present them, it is a wonder of wonders that they ever prevail with heaven.

Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings

I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes: nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications. Who would have thought those prayers should ever have had any prevalence in God’s ears which were mixed with so much infidelity in the petitioner’s heart! William Secker.

I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes. No, no, Christian; a prayer sent up in faith, according to the will of God, cannot be lost, though it be delayed. We may say of it, as David said of Saul’s sword and Jonathan’s bow, that they never return empty. So David adds, Nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee. John Flavel.

I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes, etc. Let us with whom it was once night, improve that morning joy that now shines upon us. Let us be continual admirers of God’s grace and mercy to us. He has prevented us with his goodness, when he saw nothing in us but impatience and unbelief, when we were like Jonas in the belly of hell, his bowels yearned over us, and his power brought us safe to land. What did we to hasten his deliverance, or to obtain his mercy? If he had never come to our relief till he saw something in us to invite him, we had not yet been relieved. No more did we contribute to our restoration than we do to the rising of the sun, or the approach of day. We were like dry bones without motion, and without strength. Ezekiel 37:1-11. And we also said, that ‘we were cut off for our parts, and our hope was gone, and he caused breath to enter into us, and we live.’ Who is a God like to our God that pardoneth iniquity, transgression, and sin? that retains not his anger for ever? that is slow to wrath and delights in mercy? that has been displeased with us for a moment, but gives us hope of his everlasting kindness? Oh! what love is due from us to Christ, that has pleaded for us when we ourselves had nothing to say! That has brought us out of a den of lions, and from the jaws of the roaring lion! To say, as Mrs. Sarah Wright did, “I have obtained mercy, that thought my time of mercy past for ever; I have hope of heaven, that thought I was already damned by unbelief; I said many a time, there is no hope in mine end, and I thought I saw it; I was so desperate, I cared not what became of me. Oft was I at the very brink of death and hell, even at the very gates of both, and then Christ shut them. I was as Daniel in the lion’s den, and he stopped the mouth of those lions, and delivered me. The goodness of God is unsearchable; how great is the excellency of his majesty, that yet he would look upon such a one as I; that he has given me peace that was full of terror, and walked continually as amidst fire and brimstone.” Timothy Rogers.

I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes:—i.e., Thou hast quite forsaken me, and I must not expect to be looked upon or regarded by thee any more. I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul, and so be cut off from before thine eyes, be ruined while thou lookest on 1 Samuel 27:1. This he said in his flight (so some read it), which notes the distress of his affairs: Saul was just at his back, and ready to seize him, which made the temptation strong; in his haste (so we read it), which notes the disturbance and discomposure of his mind, which made the temptation surprising, so that it found him off his guard. Note, it is a common thing to speak amiss, when we speak in haste and without consideration; but what we speak amiss in haste, we must repent of at leisure, particularly that which we have spoken distrustfully of God. Matthew Henry.

I said in my haste. Sometimes a sudden passion arises, and out it goes in angry and froward words, setting all in an uproar and combustion: by and by our hearts recur upon us, and then we wish, “O that I had bit my tongue, and not given it such an unbridled liberty.” Sometimes we break out into rash censures of those that it may be are better than ourselves, whereupon when we reflect, we are ashamed that the fools’ bolt was so soon shot, and wish we had been judging ourselves when we were censuring our brethren. Richard Alleine.

Nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee. As if he had said, when I prayed with so little faith, that I, as it were, unprayed my own prayer, by concluding my case in a manner desperate; yet God pardoned my hasty spirit, and gave me that mercy which I had hardly any faith to expect; and what use doth he make of this experience, but to raise every saint’s hope in time of need? “Be of good courage and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.” William Gurnall.

He confesseth the great distress he was in, and how weak his faith was under the temptation; this he doth to his own shame acknowledge also, that he may give the greater glory to God. Whence learn,

  1. The faith of the godly may be slackened, and the strongest faith may sometimes show its infirmity. I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes.
  2. Though faith be shaken, yet it is fixed in the root, as a tree beaten by the wind keeping strong grips of good ground. Though faith seem to yield, yet it faileth not, and even when it is at the weakest, it is uttering itself in some act, as a wrestler, for here the expression of David’s infirmity in faith, is directed to God, and his earnest prayer joined with it, I am cut off from before thine eyes: nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications.
  3. Praying faith, how weak soever, shall not be misregarded of God; for nevertheless, saith he, thou heardest the voice of my supplications.
  4. There may be in a soul at one time, both grief oppressing, and hope upholding; both darkness of trouble, and the light of faith; both desperately doubting, and strong gripping of God’s truth and goodness; both a fainting and a fighting; a seeming yielding in the fight, and yet a striving of faith against all opposition; both a foolish haste, and a settled staidness of faith; as here, I said in my haste, etc.—David Dickson.

David vents his astonishment at the Lord’s condescension in hearing his prayer. How do we wonder at the goodness of a petty man in granting our desires! How much more should we at the humility and goodness of the most sovereign Majesty of heaven and earth! Stephen Charnock.

Hints to the Village Preacher

Unbelief confessed and faithfulness adored.

The mischief of hasty speeches.
The Treasury of David.

Singing psalms


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