Verse 13. But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth. David had been a man of sympathy; he had mourned when Saul was in ill health, putting on the weeds of sorrow for him as though he were a near and dear friend. His heart went into mourning for his sick master. Humbled my soul with fasting. He prayed for his enemy, and made the sick man's case his own, pleading and confessing as if his own personal sin had brought on the evil. This showed a noble spirit in David, and greatly aggravated the baseness of those who now so cruelly persecuted him. And my prayer returned into mine own bosom. Prayer is never lost: if it bless not those for whom intercession is made, it shall bless the intercessors. Clouds do not always descend in showers upon the same spot from which the vapours ascended, but they come down somewhere; and even so do supplications in some place or other yield their showers of mercy. If our dove find no rest for the sole of her foot among our enemies, it shall fly into our bosoms and bring an olive branch of peace in its mouth. How sharp is the contrast all through this Psalm between the righteous and his enemies! We must be earnest to keep the line of demarcation broad and clear.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 13. My prayer returned into, or was directed to, my bosom. Of the many interpretations that are given of this passage, that appears to me the most probable which derives it from the posture of the worshipper; who standing with his head inclined downward toward his bosom, turned away his attention from all external objects, and uttered his mournful and earnest requests, as if they were directed to his own bosom. Such a posture of devotion is in use both among Jews and Mohammedans. Koeler in Repertor. Lit. Orient.; and Reland de Relig. Mohammedica, quoted by Walford in loc.
Verse 13. (last clause). We may read it thus: Let my prayer return into my bosom; that is, I wished no worse to them than to myself: let me receive of God such good as I prayed for them. See Psalms 79:12 . Henry Ainsworth.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 13. Christian sympathy even for the froward.
Verse 13. (last clause). Personal benefit of intercessory prayer.
Verse 13-14. Compassion to the sick. C. Simeon.