Verse 28. My soul melteth for heaviness. He was dissolving away in tears. The solid strength of his constitution was turning to liquid as if molten by the furnace heat of his afflictions. Heaviness of heart is a killing thing, and when it abounds it threatens to turn life into a long death, in which a man seems to drop away in a perpetual drip of grief. Tears are the distillation of the heart; when a man weeps he wastes away his soul. Some of us know what great heaviness means, for we have been brought under its power again and again, and often have we felt ourselves to be poured out like water, and near to being like water spilt upon the ground, never again to be gathered up. There is one good point in this downcast state, for it is better to be melted with grief than to be hardened by impenitence.
Strengthen thou me according unto thy word. He had found out an ancient promise that the saints shall be strengthened, and here he pleads it. His hope in his state of depression lies not in himself, but in his God; if he may be strengthened from on high he will yet shake off his heaviness and rise to joy again. Observe how he pleads the promise of the word, and asks for nothing more than to be dealt with after the recorded manner of the Lord of mercy. Had not Hannah sung, "He shall give strength unto his King, and exalt the horn of his anointed"? God strengthens us by infusing grace through his word: the word which creates can certainly sustain. Grace can enable us to bear the constant fret of an abiding sorrow, it can repair the decay caused by the perpetual tear drip, and give to the believer the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Let us always resort to prayer in our desponding times, for it is the surest and shortest way out of the depths. In that prayer let us plead nothing but the word of God; for there is no plea like a promise, no argument like a word from our covenant God.
Note how David records his inner soul life. In Psalms 119:20 he says, "My soul breaketh;" in Psalms 119:25 , "My soul cleaveth to the dust;" and here, "My soul melteth." Further on, in Psalms 119:81 , he cries, "My soul fainteth;" in Psalms 119:109 , "My soul is continually in my hand;" in Psalms 119:167 , "My soul hath kept thy testimonies;" and lastly, in Psalms 119:175 , "Let my soul live." Some people do not even know that they have a soul, and here is David all soul. What a difference there is between the spiritually living and the spiritually dead.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 28. My soul melteth for heaviness. In the original the word signifies, "droppeth away." The Septuagint hath it thus: "My soul fell asleep through weariness." Probably by a fault of the transcribers, putting one word for another. My soul droppeth. It may relate
- to the plenty of his tears, as the word is used in Scripture: "My friends scorn me: but mine eye poureth out tears unto God" ( Job 16:20 ), or droppeth to God, the same word; so it notes his deep sorrow and sense of his condition. The like allusion is in Joshua 7:5 ; "The heart of the people melted, and became as water." Or
- it relates to his languishing under the extremity of his sorrow; as an unctuous thing wasteth by dropping, so was his soul even dropping away. Such a like expression is used in Psalms 117:96 : "Their soul is melted because of trouble"; and of Jesus Christ, whose strength was exhausted by the greatness of his sorrows, it is said, Psalms 22:14 , "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it melteth in the midst of my bowels." Be the allusion either to the one or to the other; either to the dropping of tears, or to the melting and wasting away of what is fat or unctuous, it notes a vehement sorrow, and brokenness of heart. So much is clear, his soul was even melting away, and unless God did help, he could hold out no longer. Thomas Manton.
Verse 28. My soul melteth. The oldest versions make it mean to slumber (LXX enustaqen, Vulg. dormitavit), which would make the clause remarkably coincident with Luke 22:45 . Joseph Addison Alexander.
Verse 28. Heaviness. There is nothing may comfort a natural man but David had it; yet cannot all these keep him from that heaviness whereunto, as witnesseth S. Peter, the children of God are subject in this life, through their manifold temptations. The men of the world are so far from this disposition, that if they have health and wealth, they marvel what it is should make a man heavy: they are not acquainted with the exercise of a feeling conscience; they know not the defects of the spiritual life, and are not grieved at them: being dead in sin they feel not that they want life; all their care is to eat and drink and make merry. But miserable are they; for in their best estate they are as oxen fed for the slaughter. Woe be to them who laugh now, they shall mourn; but blessed are they who mourn now, for they shall be comforted. William Cowper.
Verse 28. Strengthen thou me according unto thy word. Strengthen me to do the duties, resist the temptations, and bear up under the burdens of an afflicted state, that the spirit may not fail. Matthew Henry.
Verse 28. Strengthen thou me according unto thy word. What is that word which David pleaded? "As thy days, so shall thy strength be," Deuteronomy 33:25 . "Will he plead against me," said Job, "with his great power? No; but he will put strength in me," Job 23:6 . Charles Bridges.
Verse 28. Strengthen thou me. Gesenius translates this, "Keep me alive." Thus, ygmyq, in this verse, answers to ygyx, in the first verse. This prayer for new strength, or life, is an entreaty that the waste of life through tears might be restored by the life giving word. Frederick G. Marchant.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 28. -- Heaviness, its cause, curse, and cure.