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Psalm 56:12

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 12. Thy vows are upon me, O God. Vows made in his trouble he does not lightly forget, nor should we. We voluntarily made them, let us cheerfully keep them. All professed Christians are men under vows, but especially those who in hours of dire distress have rededicated themselves unto the Lord.

I will render praises unto thee. With heart, and voice, and gift, we should cheerfully extol the God of our salvation. The practice of making solemn vows in times of trouble is to be commended, when it is followed by the far less common custom of fulfilling them when the trouble is over.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 12. Thy vows are upon me, O God. Whoever is conversant with the Psalms of David, will find him frequently making vows, and careful in paying them. When these words dropped from him he was just delivered out of a pressing danger among the Philistines, with whom he took shelter from the rage of King Saul, who unweariedly pursued him; but he soon found that the remembrance of his past achievements to their damage was still so fresh amongst them, and they so exasperated thereupon, that his life was in constant danger. In his distress he flies to God, his wonted refuge, and sends up earnest addresses to him, vowing if he would open a way for his deliverance out of these new straits, he would show his grateful sense of so signal a mercy, by the exactness and accuracy of his future obedience. God hears and succours him; and he thereupon grateful looks back, endeavours to renew the sense of his former obligation to his great Deliverer, and to stir up himself by suitable returns, and so cries out, Thy vows are upon me, O God; as if he should say, I resolve, O Lord, not to forget what was transacted while I was under my fears. Thou hast heard my cries, and I own myself firmly bound by my vows. I was serious and in earnest when I made them, and I will endeavour to show that I was so by my care to perform them. Thy vows, O God, made indeed on my part, but justly to be exacted on thine, are upon me, they do in reality hold me fast, and I desire not to be released. I am sensible I deserve to be stigmatised for a perfidious wretch if I ever forget them. This temper of holy David with reference to the vows he made on this occasion, should be ours with reference to all the sacred vows we any way come under. All Christians, as such, are necessarily under vows to the blessed God: and particular circumstances may make it expedient for us to come under special engagements to him. But wherever they are such as that they may justly be denominated vows of God, i.e., are such as his word will warrant; we should make holy David, as speaking in this text, our pattern, and set ourselves to imitate him, in seriously owning their binding force, and endeavouring to answer and pay them. Edmund Calamy, in "A Practical Discourse Concerning Vows," 1704.

Verse 12. Thy vows are upon me, O God. A well composed vow will make thee more circumspect and wary in the general course of thy life. Such an influence it hath, as doth more directly work on one particular part, yet is not terminated to that particular only. Thus it was with David. These vows were made when he was in danger of his life, as it seemeth from Psalms 56:13 ; for when God heard him, he delivered his soul from death: for this he vowed praises in particular, and he will render them. But, withal he takes himself to be hereby engaged to a more exact and circumspect walk before God in all duties: so he expresses himself in the latter part of Psalms 56:13 . Henry Hurst (1629-1696), in "The Morning Exercise at Cripplegate," 1661.

Verse 12-13. Thy vows are upon me, O God. Passively, vows made to God, not by God; or the obligations of those vows and prayers which I have made and upon which I have received answers. Sacrifices of thanksgiving were called vows, as having been vowed to God upon the want, and to be paid upon the receipt, of mercy. Leviticus 1:1 , "If the sacrifice that is offered be a vow." Thy vows are upon me; the fruit of my vows, so that I stand indebted to God for the return of praise. Thou hast delivered. He understands some great danger wherein he had sunk had not God stood by him, and from a greater mercy, the deliverance of his soul from death, argues for a less, the keeping his feet from falling. That I may walk before God in the light of the living. By light of the living is meant life, which is called being enlightened with the "light of the living." Job 33:30 . Sometimes eternal life in heaven. John 8:12 , "He that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." "To walk before God." To walk obediently in the sight of God; with a respect to his presence; a walking unto all well pleasing. This is the last argument in the Psalm whereon he builds his strongest plea, as if he knew not what to urge if this should fail him; as if he should have said, Lord, I have had experience of thy wisdom in contriving, thy power in effecting, thy mercy in bestowing deliverance upon me, thy goodness in answering my vows and prayers. "Thou hast delivered from death," a danger as great and unavoidable as death itself. O Lord, art not thou the same as thou wert? Art not thou still as wise to design, and as gracious to confer further mercy? Wilt thou not as certainly also deliver my feet from falling? The one contains his experience, the other the inference or conclusion he draws from it. Mercies received are in a special manner to be remembered. Mercies received are encouragements to ask, and strong grounds to hope for the mercies we want. Stephen Charnock.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 12. Here is --


  • Past dedication.

  • Present consecration.

  • Future glorification. G. R.
  • Verse 12-13. You have here --

    1. The commemoration of former mercies: Thou hast delivered.
    2. The confidence of future: Wilt not thou.
    3. The end of all: To walk before God in the light of the living. Stephen Charnock.
    Read Psalm 56:12