Verse 3. For thou art my rock and my fortress. Here the tried soul avows yet again its full confidence in God. Faith's repetitions are not vain. The avowal of our reliance upon God in times of adversity is a principle method of glorifying him. Active service is good, but the passive confidence of faith is not one jot less esteemed in the sight of God. The words before us appear to embrace and fasten upon the Lord with a fiducial grip which is not to be relaxed. The two personal pronouns, like sure nails, lay hold upon the faithfulness of the Lord. O for grace to have our heart fixed in firm unstaggering belief in God! The figure of a rock and a fortress may be illustrated to us in these times by the vast fortress of Gibraltar, often besieged by our enemies, but never wrested from us: ancient strongholds, though far from impregnable by our modes of warfare, were equally important in those remoter ages -- when in the mountain fastnesses, feeble bands felt themselves to be secure. Note the singular fact that David asked the Lord to be his rock Psalms 31:2 because he was his rock; and learn from it that we may pray to enjoy in experience what we grasp by faith. Faith is the foundation of prayer. Therefore for thy name's sake lead me, and guide me. The psalmist argues like a logician with his fors and therefores. Since I do sincerely trust thee, saith he, O my God, be my director. To lead and to guide are two things very like each other, but patient thought will detect different shades of meaning, especially as the last may mean provide for me. The double word indicates an urgent need -- we require double direction, for we are fools, and the way is rough. Lead me as a soldier, guide me as a traveller! lead me as a babe, guide me as a man; lead me when thou art with me, but guide me even if thou be absent; lead me by thy hand, guide me by thy word. The argument used is one which is fetched from the armoury of free grace: not for my own sake, but for thy name's sake guide me. Our appeal is not to any fancied virtue in our own names, but to the glorious goodness and graciousness which shines resplendent in the character of Israel's God. It is not possible that the Lord should suffer his own honour to be tarnished, but this would certainly be the case if those who trusted him should perish. This was Moses' plea, "What wilt thou do unto thy great name?"
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 1-3.: -- See Psalms on "Psalms 31:1" for further information.
Verse 2-3. Be thou my strong rock, etc. What the Lord is engaged to be unto us by covenant, we may pray and expect to find him in effect. Be thou my strong rock, saith he, for thou art my rock. David Dickson.
Verse 3. For thy name's sake. If merely a creature's honour, the credit of ministers, or the glory of angels were involved, man's salvation would indeed be uncertain. But every step involves the honour of God. We plead for his name's sake. If God should begin and not continue, or if he should carry on but not complete the work, all would admit that it was for some reason that must bring reproach on the Almighty. This can never be. God was self moved to undertake man's salvation. His glorious name makes it certain the top stone shall be laid in glory. William S. Plumer.
Verse 3. For thy name's sake. On account of the fame of thy power, thy goodness, thy truth, &c. Lead me. As a shepherd an erring sheep, as a leader military bands, or as one leads another ignorant of the way. See Genesis 24:27 Nehemiah 9:12-13 Psalms 23:3 73:24. Govern my counsels, my affections, and my thoughts. Martin Geier, 1614-1681.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 2-3. (last and first clauses). That which we have we may yet seek for.
Verse 3. Work out the metaphor of God as a rocky fastness of the soul.
Verse 3. (last clause).
- A blessing needed, lead me.
- A blessing obtainable.
- An argument for its being granted, for thy name's sake..