Psalm 144:2

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 2. Now our royal poet multiplies metaphors to extol his God.

My goodness, and my fortress. The word for goodness signifies mercy. Whoever we may be, and wherever we may be, we need mercy such as can only be found in the infinite God. It is all of mercy that he is any of the other good things to us, so that this is a highly comprehensive title. O how truly has the Lord been mercy to many of us in a thousand ways! He is goodness itself, and he has been unbounded goodness to us. We have no goodness of our own, but the Lord has become goodness to us. So is he himself also our fortress and safe abode: in him we dwell as behind impregnable ramparts and immovable bastions. We cannot be driven out, or starved out; for our fortress is prepared for a siege; it is stored with abundance of food, and a well of living water is within it. Kings usually think much of their fenced cities, but King David relies upon his God, who is more to him than fortresses could have been.

My high tower, and my deliverer. As from a lofty watchtower the believer, trusting in the Lord, looks down upon his enemies. They cannot reach him in his elevated position; he is out of bow shot; he is beyond their scaling ladders; he dwells on high. Nor is this all; for Jehovah is our Deliverer as well as our Defender. These different figures set forth the varied benefits which come to us from our Lord. He is every good thing which we can need for this world or the next. He not only places us out of harm's way full often, but when we must be exposed, he comes to our rescue, he raises the siege, routs the foe, and sets us in joyous liberty.

My shield, and he in whom I trust. When the warrior rushes on his adversary, he bears his target upon his arm, and thrusts death aside; thus doth the believer oppose the Lord to the blows of the enemy, and finds himself secure from harm. For this and a thousand other reasons our trust rests in our God for everything; he never fails us, and we feel boundless confidence in him.

Who subdueth my people under me. He keeps my natural subjects subject, and my conquered subjects peaceful under my sway. Men who rule others should thank God if they succeed in the task. Such strange creatures are human beings, that if a number of them are kept in peaceful association under the leadership of any one of the Lord's servants, he is bound to bless God every day for the wonderful fact. The victories of peace are as much worthy of joyful gratitude as the victories of war. Leaders in the Christian church cannot maintain their position except as the Lord preserves to them the mighty influence which ensures obedience and evokes enthusiastic loyalty. For every particle of influence for good which we may possess let us magnify the name of the Lord.

Thus has David blessed Jehovah for blessing him. How many times he has appropriated the Lord by that little word My! Each time he grasps the Lord, he adores and blesses him; for the one word Blessed runs through all the passage like a golden thread. He began by acknowledging that his strength for fighting foreign enemies was of the Lord, and he concluded by ascribing his domestic peace to the same source. All round as a king he saw himself to be surrounded by the King of kings, to whom he bowed in lowly homage, doing suit and service on bent knee, with grateful heart admitting that he owed everything to the Rock of his salvation.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 2. My goodness, etc. This way of using the word in a passive sense, as in the Hebrew, sounds harshly; just as elsewhere ( Psalms 18:50 ) he calls himself "God's king", not in the sense of his having dominion over God, but being made and appointed king by him. Having experienced God's kindness in so many ways, he calls him "his goodness", meaning that whatever good he possessed flowed from him. The accumulation of terms, one upon another, which follows, may appear unnecessary, yet it tends greatly to strengthen faith. We know how unstable men's minds are, and especially how soon faith wavers, when they are assailed by some trial of more than usual severity. --John Calvin.

Verse 2. My fortress. David calls God by names connected with the chief deliverances of his life. The psalms abound in local references and descriptive expressions, e.g. Psalms 18:2 (and in this place). The word translated "fortress" is metzuriah or masada. From 1 Samuel 23:29 , I have no doubt that he is speaking of Masada, an isolated peak 1,500 feet high, on which was a stronghold. --James Wareing Bardsley, in "Glimpses through the Veil", 1883.

Verse 2. My high tower. Such towers were erected on mountains, on rocks, or on the walls of a city, and were regarded as safe places mainly because they were inaccessible. So the old castles in Europe, -- as that at Heidelberg, and generally those along the Rhine, -- were built on lofty places, and in such positions as not to be easily accessible. --Albert Barnes.

Verse 2. My shield. The Hebrew word signifies, not the huge shield which was carried by an armourbearer, but the handy target with which heroes entered into hand to hand conflicts. A warrior took it with him when he used his bow or his sword. It was often made of metal, but still was portable, and useful, and was made to serve as an ornament, being brightened or anointed with oil. David had made abundant use of the Lord, his God, from day to day, in battles many and murderous. --C.H.S.

Verse 2. Who subdueth my people under me. David, accordingly, having ascribed the victories he had gained over foreign enemies to God, thanks him at the same time for the settled state of the kingdom. Raised indeed as he was from an obscure station, and exposed to hatred from calumnious charges, it was scarcely to have been believed that he would ever obtain a peaceable reign. The people had suddenly, and beyond expectation, submitted to him; and so surprising a change was eminently God's work. --John Calvin.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 2. Double flowers.

  1. Good preserved from evil: "goodness" and "fortress."
  2. Safety enlarged into liberty: "tower", "deliverer."
  3. Security attended with rest: "shield, in whom I trust."
  4. Sufficiency to maintain superiority: "subdueth my people under me." View God as working all.

Verse 2. A Group of Titles. Notice,

  1. Which comes first. "Goodness." Heb. "Mercy."

    1. It is right and natural that a saved sinner should make the most of "mercy", and place it in the foreground.
    2. Mercy is the ground and reason of the other titles named. For whatever God is to us, it is a special manifestation of his mercy.
    3. It is a good thing to see a believer ripe in experience making mercy the leading note in his song of praise.
  2. Which comes last: "He in whom I trust." It suggests,

    1. That what God is makes him worthy of trust.
    2. That meditation upon what he is strengthens our trust.
  3. What peculiar force the word "my" gives to each. It makes it,

    1. A record of experience.
    2. An ascription of praise.
    3. A blessed boasting.
    4. An incentive, enough to set others longing. --J.F.