Verse 2. I poured out my complaint before him. His inward meditation filled his soul: the bitter water rose up to the brim; what was to be done? He must pour out the wormwood and the gall, he could not keep it in; he lets it run away as best it can, that so his heart may be emptied of the fermenting mixture. But he took care where he outpoured his complaint, lest he should do mischief, or receive an ill return. If he poured it out before man he might only receive contempt from the proud, hardheartedness from the careless, or pretended sympathy from the false; and therefore he resolved upon an outpouring before God alone, since he would pity and relieve. The word is Scarcely "complaint"; but even if it be so we may learn from this text that our complaint must never be of a kind that we dare not bring before God. We may complain to God, but not of God. When we complain it should not be before men, but before God alone.
I shewed before him my trouble. He exhibited his griefs to one who could assuage them: he did not fall into the mistaken plan of so many who publish their sorrows to those who cannot help them. This verse is parallel with the first; David first pours out his complaint, letting it flow forth in a natural, spontaneous manner, and then afterwards he makes a more elaborate show of his affliction; just as in the former verse ( Psalms 141:1-10 ) he began with crying, and went on to "make supplication." Praying men pray better as they proceed. Note that we do not show our trouble before the Lord that he may see it, but that we may see him. It is for our relief, and not for his information that we make plain statements concerning our woes: it does us much good to set out our sorrow in order, for much of it vanishes in the process, like a ghost which will not abide the light of day; and the rest loses much of its terror, because the veil of mystery is removed by a clear and deliberate stating of the trying facts. Pour out your thoughts and you will see what they are; show your trouble and the extent of it will be known to you: let all be done before the Lord, for in comparison with his great majesty of love the trouble will seem to be as nothing.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 2. I poured out my complaint before him. Literally, my meditation; that is -- what so much occupied my thoughts at the time I expressed aloud. The word "complaint" does not express the idea. The meaning is, not that he complained of God or of man; but that his mind meditated on his condition. -- Albert Barnes.
Verse 2. I poured out, etc. I did it fully, and fervently, and confidently. -- Matthew Henry.
Verse 2. Poured out ... before him. Those words teach us that in prayer we should not try to keep anything back from God, but should show him all that is in our hearts, and that in his presence in our closet, with the door shut, but not before men. The Carmelite adds that there is much force in the words with my voice, twice repeated (as in Heb., A.V. Vulgate, etc.) to show us that we ought to pray to God directly for ourselves, and in person, and not be contented with an Ora pro me addressed to some one else. -- Cassiodorus and Ayguan, in Neale and Littledale.
Verse 2. I shewed before him my trouble. Be very particular in secret prayer, both as to sins, wants, and mercies ... Be not ashamed to open out all thy necessities. David argues because he is "poor and needy"; four several times he presses his wants and exigencies before God, like an earnest but holy beggar ( Psalms 40:17 70:5 86:1 109:22). He "shewed before him" his trouble. He presents "before" God his ragged condition, and spreads open his secret wounds; as Job said, he "would order" his "cause before him": Job 23:4 ... Before God we may speak out our minds fully, and name the persons that afflict, affront, and trouble us; and woe to them that a child of God upon a mature judgment names in prayer! I find not that such a prayer in Scripture ever returned empty ... A great reason why we reap so little benefit in prayer is, because we rest too much in generals; and if we have success, it is but dark, so that often we cannot tell what to make of the issues of prayer. Besides, to be particular in our petitions would keep the spirit much from wandering when we are intent upon a weighty case, and the progress of the soul in grace would manifest its gradual success in prayer. -- Samuel Lee (1625-1691), in "The Morning Exercises."
Verse 2. The committing of our cause to God is at once our duty, our safety, and our ease. - -Abraham Wright.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
- The true place for prayer -- "before him."
- The freedom of prayer -- "poured out."
- The unveiling of the heart in prayer -- "shewed before him my trouble."