Verse 84. How many are the days of thy servant? I cannot hope to live long in such a condition, thou must come speedily to my rescue, or I shall die. Shall all my short life be consumed in such destroying sorrows? The brevity of life is a good argument against the length of an affliction. Perhaps the Psalmist means that his days seemed too many when they were spent in such distress. He half wished that they were ended, and therefore he asked in trouble, "How many are the days of thy servant?" Like a hired servant, he had a certain term to serve, and he would not complain; but still the time seemed long because his griefs were so heavy. No one knows the appointed number of our days except the Lord, and therefore to him the appeal is made that he would not prolong them beyond his servant's strength. It cannot be the Lord's mind that his own servant should always be treated so unjustly; there must be an end to it; when would it be?
When wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me? He had placed his case in the Lord's hands, and he prayed that sentence might be given and put into execution. He desired nothing but justice, that his character might be cleared and his persecutors silenced. He knew that God would certainly avenge Iris own elect, but the day of rescue tarried, the hours dragged heavily along, and the persecuted one cried day and night for deliverance.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 84. -- How many are the days of thy servant? etc. Some read the two clauses apart, as if the first were a general complaint of the brevity of human life, such as is to be met with in other Psalms, and more frequently in the book of Job; and next, in their opinion, there follows a special prayer of the Psalmist that God would take vengeance upon his enemies. But I rather prefer joining the two clauses together, and limit both to David's afflictions; as if it had been said, Lord, how long hast thou determined to abandon thy servant to the will of the ungodly? when wilt thou set thyself in opposition to their cruelty and outrage, in order to take vengeance upon them? The Scriptures often use the word "days" in this sense... By the use of the plural number is denoted a determinate portion of time, which, in other places, is compared to the "days of an hireling": Job 14:6 ; Isaiah 16:14 . The Psalmist does not, then, bewail in general the transitory life of man, but he complains that the time of his state of warfare in this world had been too long protracted; and, therefore, he naturally desires that it might be brought to a termination. In expostulating with God about his troubles, he does not do so obstinately, or with a murmuring spirit; but still, in asking how long it will be necessary for him to suffer, he humbly prays that God would not delay to succour him. --John Calvin.
Verse 84. -- When wilt thou execute judgment on them that persecute me? He declares that he does not doubt but that there will be at some period an end to his afflictions, and that there will be a time in which his haters and enemies will be judged and punished. He assumes the fact and therefore enquires the date. Thus in the saints their very impatience of delay does itself prove their confidence of future salvation and deliverance. -- Wolfgang Musculus.
Verse 84. -- When wilt thou execute judgment, etc. This is an ordinary prayer, not against any certain persons, but rather generally against God's enemies and their evil courses. For the Lord executeth judgment upon his children for their conversion, as Paul (Acts 9), and upon the wicked for their confusion. He prayeth against them that belonged not to God, and yet not so much against their persons as their evil causes; and no otherwise against their persons than as they are joined with the evil causes. Thus we may pray for the confusion of God's enemies; otherwise we cannot. --R. Greenham.
Verse 84. -- In this verse there is none of the ten words used in reference to God's law. -- Adam Clarke. Is not judgment one of them? -- C.H.S.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 84. -- A solemn question pointing to the shortness of life, the severity of sorrow, the necessity of industry, the nearness of the reward.