Verse 6. I call to remembrance my song in the night. At other times his spirit had a song for the darkest hour, but now he could only recall the strain as a departed memory. Where is the harp which once thrilled sympathetically to the touch of those joyful fingers? My tongue, hast thou forgotten to praise? Hast thou no skill except in mournful ditties? Ah me, how sadly fallen am I! How lamentable that I, who like the nightingale could charm the night, am now fit comrade for the hooting owl.
I commune with mine own heart. He did not cease from introspection, for he was resolved to find the bottom of his sorrow, and trace it to its fountain head. He made sure work of it by talking not with his mind only, but with his inmost heart; it was heart work with him. He was no idler, no melancholy trifler; he was up and at it, resolutely resolved that he would not tamely die of despair, but would fight for his hope to the last moment of life.
And my spirit made diligent search. He ransacked his experience, his memory, his intellect, his whole nature, his entire self, either to find comfort or to discover the reason why it was denied him. That man will not die by the hand of the enemy who has enough force of soul remaining to struggle in this fashion.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Whole Psalm. Whenever, and by whomsoever, the Psalm may have been written, it clearly is individual, not national. It utterly destroys all the beauty, all the tenderness and depth of feeling in the opening portion, if we suppose that the people are introduced speaking in the first person. The allusions to the national history may indeed show that the season was a season of national distress, and that the sweet singer was himself bowed down by the burden of the time, and oppressed by woes which he had no power to alleviate; but it is his own sorrow, not the sorrow of others under which he sighs, and of which he has left the pathetic record. J. J. Stewart Perowne.
Verse 6. I call to remembrance my song in the night. Either
- "I will now, in the present night of affliction, remember my former songs." "Though this is a time of distress, and my present circumstances are gloomy, yet I have known brighter days. He that lifted me up, has cast me down, and he can raise me up again." Sometimes this reflection, indeed, adds a poignancy to our distress, as it did to David's trouble, Psalms 42:4 . Yet it will bear a better improvement, which he seems to make of it; Psalms 77:11 , and so Job, ( Job 2:10 .) "Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?" And his case shows that after the most sweeping calamities the Lord can again give things a turn in favour of them that hope in him. Therefore, present troubles should not make us forget former comforts, especially as the former so much exceeded our deserts, and the present afflictions fall so short of our demerits. Or
- the text may mean, "I will remember how I have been enabled to sing in the former nights of affliction." And surely it is especially seasonable to remember supports and consolations granted under preceding distresses. Elihu complained ( Job 35:10 ), "There is none that saith, Where is God my maker, who giveth songs on the night." David comforted himself with the thought, "Though deep calleth unto deep, yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me." Psalms 42:8 . And the Lord promised by Isaiah ( Isaiah 30:29 ), "Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is kept." No doubt Paul and Silas remembered their song in the night, when imprisoned at Philippi; and it afforded them encouragement under subsequent trials. And cannot many of you, my brethren, in like manner, remember the supports and consolations you have enjoyed in former difficulties, and how the Lord turned the shadow of death into morning? And ought you not to trust to him that hath delivered, that he will yet deliver? He that hath delivered in six troubles, will not forsake you in seven. The "clouds may return after the rain," but not a drop can fail without the leave of him, who rides on the heavens for your help, and in his excellency on the sky. Did you not forbode at first a very different termination of the former troubles? and did the Lord disappoint your fears, and put a new song into your mouth; and will you not now begin to trust him, and triumph in him? Surely you have found that the Lord can clear the darkest skies. "Light is sown for the righteous," and ere long you shall see an eternal day. If such songs are given to the pilgrims of the night, how shall they sing in that world where the sun shall set no more! There will be no night there. John Ryland. 1753-1825.
Verse 6. I call to remembrance: being glad in this scarcity of comfort, to live upon the old store, as bees do in winter. John Trapp.
Verse 6. My song in the night. The "songs of the night" is as favourite a word of the Old Testament as "glory in tribulation" is of the New, and it is one of those which prove that both Testaments have the self same root and spirit. John Kerr.
Verse 6. My spirit made diligent search. He falls upon self examination, and searcheth his spirit, to consider why the hand of God was so against him, and why the face of God was so hid from him. Some read it, "I digged into my spirit;" as Ezekiel digged into the wall, to search for and find out the abomination, that made the Lord thus leave him in the dark, and hide his face from him. He searcheth the wound of his spirit; that was another way to cure it. It is a notable way to cure the wounds of the soul, for the soul to search them. John Collings.
Verse 6 My spirit made diligent search. The verb fbx, chaphas, signifies such an investigation as a man makes who is obliged to strip himself in order to do it; or to lift up coverings, to search fold by fold, or in our own phrase, to leave no stone unturned. Adam Clarke.
Verse 6. My spirit made diligent search. As Ahasuerus, when he could not sleep, called for the records and chronicles of his kingdom, so the doubting soul betakes himself to the records of heaven, the word of God in the Scriptures, and one while he is reading there, another while looking into his heart, if he can find there anything that answers the characters of Scripture faith, as the face in the glass doth the face of man. David, when he was at a loss what to think of himself, and many doubts did clog his faith, insomuch that the thinking of God increased his trouble, he did not sit down and let the ship drive, as we say, not regarding whether God loved him or no, but communes with his own heart, and his spirit makes diligent search. Thus it is with every sincere soul under doubting: he dares no more sit down contented in that unresolved condition, than one who thinks he smells fire in his house dares settle himself to sleep till he hath looked in every room and corner, and satisfied himself that all is safe, lest he should be waked with the fire about his ears in the night: and the poor doubting soul is much more afraid, lest it should wake with hell fire about it: whereas a soul in a state and under the power of unbelief is secure and careless. William Gurnall.
Verse 6. Diligent search. Thus duty requires diligence. External acts of religion are facile; to lift up the eye to heaven, to bow the knee, to read a prayer, this requires no more labour than for a papist to tell over his beads; but to examine a man's self, to take the heart all in pieces as a watch, and see what is defective, this is not easy. Reflective acts are hardest. The eye can see everything but itself. It is easy to spy the faults of others, but hard to find out our own. Thomas Watson.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 5-6. There are four rules for obtaining comfort in affliction.
- The consideration of God's goodness to his people of
- Remembrance of our own past experience.
- Self examination.
- The diligent study of the word. G. R.
Verse 6. Remembrance. A good memory is very helpful and useful.
- It is a great means of knowledge: for what signifies your reading or hearing, if you remember nothing?
- It is a means of faith: 1 Corinthians 15:2 .
- It is a means of comfort. If a poor Christian in distress could remember God's promises they would inspire him with new life; but when they are forgotten, his spirits sink.
- It is a means of thankfulness.
- It is a means of hope; for "experience worketh hope" ( Romans 5:4 ), and the memory is the storehouse of experience.
- It is a means of repentance; for, how can we repent or mourn for that which we have forgotten?
- It is a means of usefulness. When one spark of grace is truly kindled in the heart, it will quickly endeavour to heat others also. R. Steele.