Verse 7. Hear me speedily, O LORD: my spirit faileth. If long delayed, the deliverance would come too late. The afflicted suppliant faints, and is ready to die. His life is ebbing out; each moment is of importance; it will soon be all over with him. No argument for speed can be more powerful than this. Who will not run to help a suppliant when his life is in jeopardy? Mercy has wings to its heels when misery is in extremity. God will not fail when our spirit fails, but the rather he will hasten his course and come to us on the wings of the wind. Hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit. Communion with God is so dear to a true heart that the withdrawal of it makes the man feel as though he were ready to die and perish utterly. God's withdrawals reduce the heart to despair, and take away all strength from the mind. Moreover, his absence enables adversaries to work their will without restraint; and thus, in a second way, the persecuted one is like to perish. If we have God's countenance we live, but if he turns his back upon us we die. When the Lord looks with favour upon our efforts we prosper, but if he refuses to countenance them we labour in vain.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 7. Hear me speedily. David is in trouble, and he betakes himself to prayer. Prayer is the sovereign remedy the godly fly to in all their extremities. The saints in sorrows have fled for comfort and healing unto prayers and supplications. Heaven is a shop full of all good things -- there are stored up blessings and mercies; this the children of God know who fly to this shop in their troubles, begging for help from this holy sanctuary. "In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord": Psalms 77:2 . When any vexation makes our life grievous unto us, what should we seek but help? of whom should we seek, but of the Lord? how should we seek, but by prayer? ... "Speedily." His request is not only for hearing, but for speedy hearing: "Hear me, and hear me speedily"; answer, and answer quickly. This is the tone and tune of men in distress. Man in misery earnestly sues for speedy delivery. In our afflictions and troubles, deliverance, though it should come with wings, we never think it comes soon enough. Weak man cannot content himself to know he shall have help, unless it be present help. -- Thomas Calvert, 1647.
Verse 7. My spirit faileth. This is David's first reason to move the Lord; he is at the last cast and even giving up the ghost with long waiting for help: from his low condition we may see what is often the condition of God's children, -- and the best of God's servants have waited for comfort and the feelings of his Spirit, to the very failing of their own spirit. David, a man after God's own heart, is yet brought low with the faintness and failing of his heart, in waiting for help from God. "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread" (Ge 3:19); this lies upon the sons of men. But here, not sweat of face only, that were but small; but sighs and fainting of the heart lie upon the sons of God, in seeking and hungering after a taste of God's bread of life, inward comfort, assurance, and joy of the Holy Ghost. Thus the Church was brought to this sick bed ere her comfort came: "For these things I weep; mine eye, mine eye runneth down with water, because the comforter that should relieve my soul is far from me:" Lamentations 1:16 . The disciples spirits were even failing in the tempest, when Christ slept and seemed to neglect them, as if he cared not though they perished. How should our spirits do other but fail, when our Comforter sleeps, when our only friend seems to be our enemy?
Failing of spirit is both a motive which God means to yield unto and to be won by withal; and it is also his opportunity, when he usually helps. It is a strong motive in our prayers to move him, for he is pitiful, and will not let his children utterly fail and perish; he is a pitiful Spirit to failing spirits. "I will not contend (saith the Lord) for ever, neither will I be always wroth;" why? we deserve his wrath should last and take fire for ever against us; yea, but (saith the Lord) this is the reason, "The spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made" ( Isaiah 57:16 ): I love and pity the fainting souls and spirits of men: I will help my children; how can I see my creatures whom I made and do love, to perish for want of my help? David knew the Lord's nature, and that this was speeding argument in prayer, which made him here and elsewhere so often use it. A pitiful father will not see the spirit of his children utterly fail. It is his opportunity; he usually helps when all other helps fail, that we may the more strongly cleave to him, and ground ourselves upon him, as knowing how infirm we are, if he confirm us not. When man's cruse of oil is dry, and fails, and can drop no more, then is God's time to prepare his. Thus helped he the Israelites at the Red Sea, when all man's strength and wisdom was at a stand. He loves to be seen in the mount, in extremities. --Condensed from Thomas Calvert.
Verse 7. The prayer of David becomes, as he proceeds, both more spiritual and more fervent. In the sixth verse we find him thirsting after God; and now that thirst is become so intense that it admits of no delay. In the beginning of the psalm he was content to say, "Hear my prayer"; but now he cries, "Hear me speedily." This is not the language of sinful impatience: it is, indeed, good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of God; yet a man may desire, not only an answer, but also a speedy answer, without incurring the charge of impatience. Whatever a man desires to have he desires to have soon; nor can he be otherwise than grieved at anything which delays the accomplishment of his wishes. In such desire or grief there is nothing sinful, provided it do not lead to murmuring or distrust of God. Hence this petition for speedy relief, and manifestation of God's presence and favour is very frequent with the Psalmist. He often prays, "Make haste, O Lord, to deliver; make haste to help me, O Lord." Nay, if a man does not desire the light of God's countenance soon, it is a certain proof that he does not desire it at all. If the natural language of his heart be not, "hear me speedily", delay is to him no exercise of patience. The very idea of patience implies that something is contrary to our wish; and the stronger the desire is, the more difficult will that exercise of patience become.
"Hope deferred maketh the heart sick"; and therefore David adds, "my spirit faileth." He believed verily to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living; yet so intense was his desire, that faith could hardly keep his spirit from fainting, while the blessing, which he so eagerly pursued, seemed still distant, and fled before him. He is afraid lest if God should long delay, and withdraw himself, faith and hope could hold out no longer. He therefore pleads, "hide not thy face from me, lest I become like them that go down into the pit"; and urges the failing of his spirit before him who" will not contend for ever, lest the spirit should fait before him." --John Fawcett.
Verse 7-8, 10-11. Observe how David mixes together prayers for joy, for guidance, and for sanctification -- "Hide not thy face from me." "Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk." "Teach me to do thy will." "Cause me to hear thy loving kindness in the morning." "Quicken me, O Lord, for thy name's sake." Now this is exactly right: our prayers, as well as our other obedience, must be without partiality; nay, we should desire comfort for the sake of holiness, rather than holiness for the sake of comfort. --John Fawcett.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 7. Reasons for speedy answers.
Verse 7. Never despair.
Verse 7. Cordial for the swooning heart.
Verse 8. The two prayers "Cause me to hear", and "Cause me to know." The two pleas -- "In thee do I trust", and "I lift up my soul unto thee."
Verse 8. On fixing a time for the answering of our prayer.
Verse 8. Listening for Lovingkindness.