Psalm 86:4

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 4. Rejoice the soul of thy servant. Make my heart glad, O my Maker, for I count it my honour to call myself again and again thy servant, and I reckon thy favour to be all the wages I could desire. I look for all my happiness in thee only, and therefore unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. As the heliotrope looks to the sun for its smile, so turn I my heart to thee. Thou art as the brazen serpent to my sick nature, and I lift up my soul's eye to thee that I may live. I know that the nearer I am to thee the greater is my joy, therefore be pleased to draw me nearer while I am labouring to draw near. It is not easy to lift a soul at all; it needs a strong shoulder at the wheel when a heart sticks in the miry clay of despondency: it is less easy to lift a soul up to the Lord, for the height is great as well as the weight oppressive; but the Lord will take the will for the deed, and come in with a hand of almighty grace to raise his poor servant out of the earth and up to heaven.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 4. Rejoice the soul of thy servant, etc. As I have not found rest in anything created, I have raised up my soul on the wings of thought and desire to thee my Creator. Love bears one's soul up; and it has been truly said, that the soul is more where it loves, than where it actually is. Thought and desire are the wings of love; for he that loves is borne on to, and abides in, what he loves, by thinking constantly on, and longing for, the object of his love. Whoever truly, and from his heart, loves God, by thinking on him and longing for him lifts up his soul to God; while, on the contrary, whoever loves the earth, by thinking on and coveting the things of the earth, lets his soul down to its level. -- Bellarmine.

Verse 4. Unto thee, Lord, do I lift my soul. If thou hadst corn in thy rooms below, thou wouldest take it up higher, lest it should grow rotten. Wouldest thou remove thy corn, and dost thou suffer thy heart to rot on the earth? Thou wouldest take thy corn up higher: lift up thy heart to heaven. And how can I, dost thou say? What ropes are needed? What machines? What ladders? Thy affections are the steps; thy will the way. By loving thou mountest, by neglect thou descendest. Standing on the earth thou art in heaven, if thou lovest God. For the heart is not so raised as the body is raised: the body to be lifted up changes its place: the heart to be lifted up changes its will. --Augstine.

Verse 4. Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift my soul, intimates that he had brought himself to the Lord as a living sacrifice, even as the heave offering in the tabernacle -- to show that it belonged to God and to his altar, and, that man had no part in it -- was lifted up by the hands of the priests. --Benjamin Weiss.

Verse 4. -- I lift up my soul. It denotes the devotion, fervency, heartiness, and sincerity of his prayer; the doing of it with a true heart, the lifting up of the heart with the hands unto God, Lamentations 3:41 ; or by way of offering unto the Lord, not the body only, but the soul or heart also; or as a deposition committed into is hands. --John Gill.

Verse 4. Lord. Here, and in all the verses in this psalm where ynda Adonai, occurs, many MSS read hwhy, Yehovah. The Jews, out of reverence to the incommunicable name Jehovah pronounce ynda where hwhy is in the text. It is, therefore, not improbable that hwhy is in the true reading in all these places. --Note to Calvin in loc.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 4.

  1. The believer's joy is from God -- "Rejoice", & c.
  2. The believer's joy is in God -- "unto thee", & c. -- G.R.

Verse 4.

  1. The great lift.

    1. The heavy weight -- "my soul".
  2. The weak worker -- "I lift".
  3. The great height -- "unto thee".
  4. The appointed machinery -- means of grace; and,
  5. The expected aid -- "Rejoice", etc.